February 16, 2014

Mobile apps ain’t easy – lessons from Flappy Bird

Written By Martin Sandhu


The hugely publicised rise and fall of Flappy Bird has left a number of people scratching their heads. The app, which had been in the app store since February 2013,  suddenly went viral a few weeks ago and has yet to leave the limelight. Despite only taking three days to develop, its creator Dong Nguyen was reported to be earning as much as $50,000 a day in ad revenue.  So, why would he remove it?

All publicity is good publicity…or is it?

The spike in interest caused a storm for Flappy Bird; it rapidly became the most talked about games app across social media and in the press. This is what every app developer dreams of, but the reality is often not as expected. Nguyen had reportedly received death threats from obsessed gamers who thought the game was skewed so that they couldn’t achieve a high score and from those who simply didn’t like the app.

Virility cannot be predicted

We’re just guessing, but the likelihood is that Nguyen never expected as much attention for his three-day-build app as he got. The game had been available in the app store for a year before it took off, with no real indication as to why it suddenly went viral. The attention was unexpected and with such levels of attention of course comes the need to make changes, improvements and fixes to an app – it can quickly become a full-time job.

Free is where it’s at

Many app developers steer away from free-apps in order to make a living, but the success and reported income generated simply through adverting proves that free apps are a viable option.

Copy but be quick

Since the removal of Flappy Birds from the app store, hundreds of copy-cat games have appeared all vying to fill the space left. Being quick, but also being good is vital here. Once the sea of copy-cats emerges it’s very difficult to make yours stand-out, but equally if you do a poor job of building the app, users will simply find a better copy-cat.