In 2007, nobody knew what an App was. Tablets didn’t exist and we all salivated over the sliding, QWERTY keyboarded LG Voyager and the revolutionary original iPhone. Yesterday, Apple rewarded some lucky 50,000,000,000th downloader with a $10,000 gift card. The ten zero’s in that number still fail to capture its magnitude – a number 7 times the world’s population. Alternatively, considering 1000 apps are downloaded every single second might reinforce the lengthy odds of being that customer and in illustrating the extent of technology’s role in our daily lives.
21 of Apple’s all time top 25 downloaded paid applications are games. Angry Birds contributed 2 billion of total downloads.
If that wasn’t enough to motivate my first blog post, I was sitting on a train watching people of all generations going mad for games, particularly the one that involves lining up confectionery. A woman gets her whiny, bored, pre-adolescent daughter to hush with the pass of a smartphone. I was actually surprised she didn’t just whip out her own, but maybe it was out of battery. That’s pretty much the only reason I wasn’t on the same bandwagon. Candycrush is gripping the world, with 66 million daily players across platforms and critically linked through Facebook. I’m sure many have experienced the excitement of a notification only to realise it’s a friend who can’t go Candycrush ‘cold-turkey’ without any lives for 20 minutes. The simplicity is genius. It transcends nationality and culture barriers. It must leave every app developer kicking themselves, nevermind big time players like Zynga, EA and Bejewelled’s creator PopCap Games who are wondering why sweets forced their way into Psy’s video follow-up to Gangnam Style and not jewels.
I read in The Times that we’re all short on leisure time at the moment and people love casually gaming when they’ve got a couple of minutes to spare. Is an hour long train journey an opportunity to be productive or kill some time? Candycrush’s social element, the idea of competing against friends is actually causing Facebook signups. Depending on your technique it’s a quick source of recreation or a way to abjure responsibility and waste an hour and a half by strategically planning each individual move. Regardless, it emphasises the importance of mobile marketing and social media in connecting and maintaining relationships. Understanding the motivation behind the varying segments of the mass market could facilitate tailored communication, and I feel that’s more important than simply analysing cookie generated data.
On a personal level, my Dad is a moderate technophobe that refuses Facebook and smartphones. Although there’s no money to be made in Monopoly or Charades, and they’re not in the slightest convenient, I find it sad to imagine a household sat around the kitchen table playing games virtually. My Mum and sisters sold out long ago though and are Candycrush fiends. I might even buy a novelty fridge magnet for her birthday next month, but by then there might be a selection of merchandise available and she’d definitely prefer a pen. If it follows the Angry Birds model there will be cushion humbugs popping up everywhere.
Will our generation share the same nostalgia my Dad has in 30 years time, reminiscing about the time you bought 3 extra moves and surpassed 4 Facebook friends? Will we occasionally revert to Candycrush when we have a couple of minutes to spare, as it shares iconic status alongside Tetris or Snake? I can’t help but think no.