Smartphone applications are attracting many downloads and users, but questions remain about the longterm viability of the companies that make them.
QuizUp, first released in November and expanded to the Android Operating System on March 6, has over 11 million users a little over half a year after its release. Created by an Icelandic company called Plain Vanilla, the mobile game features seven timed multiple choice questions that pit players against each other in over 400 categories, spanning from pop culture to medicine.
QuizUp’s quick success is not unique. Other apps such as Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Candy Crush Saga have achieved meteoric rises to fame. Yet King Digital Entertainment, the company behind Candy Crush, saw a disappointing decline in stock price after its Initial Public Offering (IPO) last month. Many critics attribute the company’s struggles to its stagnation and lack of innovation as it relies on one popular app.
The transient nature of mobile apps have forced other companies to innovate to appease the increasing appetite for novel apps. For QuizUp, that means allowing community members to contribute questions, and 40,000 people have become content contributors who give fan input into the various categories.
Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, is attempting to broaden its base by making the titular character of its new game female. Additionally, the September release of Angry Birds Stella will coincide with the beginning of an animated series from the company.
According to CEO Mikael Hed, “Angry Birds Stella is breaking the mold by introducing strong, passionate characters who really stand for something, while adding plenty of action and reality into the mix.”
However, some are skeptical that Rovio is less concerned with empowerment than it is in advertising female leads for commercial purposes.
“[Angry Birds Stella is] a good start, but I think it would be more effective if other companies start [adding female leads] with characters who display actual human-like characteristics, like the girl in Temple Run who is physically fit, especially for younger kids like my little cousin who started playing those games as a little kid,” said Pasadena High School Sophomore Emily Ng.
“A pink bird isn’t that effective because it’s a bird,” she added.
While their overall effectiveness is yet to be determined, the strategies employed by Plain Vanilla and Rovio strategies are in stark contrast to that of King, which has been criticized for spending its resources on other mobile games that contain the word “Saga” but are nowhere near as ubiquitous as Candy Crush.