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Flappy Bird Removed from App Store by Creator

Earlier this week the creator of Flappy Bird, Nguyen Ha Dong, removed the free game from both the Apple and Google app stores.

The game has been ranked at #1 for both platforms and has become something of an overnight success story. However, the removal of the game raises more questions than it answers.

Flappy Bird, which was apparently inspired by Nintendo’s Mario Brothers series, involves negotiating a bird through a series of obstacles. It is believed to have been downloaded upwards of 50 million times and has netted upwards of $50,000 a day in advertising revenues for its creator.

In a curious twist, Nguyen Ha Dong has decided to make the game unavailable. It will remain on the phones of those who have already downloaded the app, but will be unavailable for new users.

There has been widespread speculation about the reasoning behind the decision. Rumours of a Nintendo lawsuit would make sense given the inspiration behind the game and the significant revenues that it has started to generate. Industry experts have suggested that investors would not be interested in buying the game. A quick look at Dong’s Twitter account would suggest that the Flappy Bird creator has become a victim of his own success:

It looks like Flappy Bird’s cult status is set to continue. Already smartphones pre-loaded with the game have appeared on eBay at vastly inflate prices. Whether we’ll ever find out more information about the reasons behind the decision to take down the game remains to be seen…

In the meantime, here are 2 lessons that we can learn from the Flappy Bird story:

1. Apps are Addictive

Flappy Bird is a great reminder that apps remain as popular as ever. In a matter of weeks the app registered 50 million downloads and registered over 500,000 reviews. This shows the power of a well designed product that captures the imagination of the user.

If you get it right, an app has the potential to keep your audience coming back for more. Whilst this is probably easiest with games and social media apps, the principles can be applied broadly.

2. Apps are Uniquely Engaging

There is something about the simplicity and repetition of an app which is highly engaging. It serves as a timely reminder that increasing user engagement isn’t about increasing complexity but understanding what your users are looking for.

If you’re trying to increase the engagement of your customers with your business, an app is a great way to achieve this. If you can produce something which is catchy, memorable and helps people to solve a problem in life – even if it’s as trivial as passing the time during the commute – you’re onto a winner.

Whilst there is certainly an edge of tragedy to Dong’s situation, it remains a remarkable story. Whilst many successful apps are developed by large gaming companies, this one-man production has proved yet again that developing a successful tech business is something that anybody can do.