Silicon Valley is often seen as a male-dominated world of warring developers, a Seven Kingdoms of Stanford graduates all vying to sit on the Lithium-I[r]on Throne. But for years, the queen in their midst has been overlooked. That’s right, Kim Kardashian West is the mobile-app monarch of the realms of tech.
Kardashian West’s main app, a game called Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, has been downloaded 45 million times and made around $160 million in revenue since it launched in June of 2014, according to a recent profile by Forbes. Of that boatload of cash, Kardashian West took home $45 million directly — around 40 percent of the $51 million she made last year alone came from the app. And she doesn’t see herself settling.
“This is fun for me,” Kardashian West told Forbes. “Now Im coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas. I don’t see myself stopping.”
Tech bros, accept your fate. Kim K is queen, and your view of how the tech world works is wrong. Even technology is susceptible to the three s’s of American capitalism: star power, selfies, and self promotion.
Though those values may seem shallow, Kardashian West’s strong foothold in the mobile-app market is a result of her shrewd business practices and the popularity of phone-based games. People don’t need expensive consoles or computers to be gamers anymore because everyone has a phone. That means people who would never have considered spending money on a nerd box in the past are now just as likely to be gamers as the guys who spent more than a grand to be the first to own an Oculus Rift.
To be fair, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood doesn’t stack up to the big boys of freemium apps (free to download, but you have to pay for extras) — yet. Clash of Clans creator Supercell made $964 million in profit in 2015 for its four games, and Candy Crush creator King made $140 million on its suite of games. It’s still too early to tell how much Pokemon GO will make, but judging by Nintendo’s astronomical $7.5 billion jump in value, it’s expected to make a lot.
But Kardashian West is selling something entirely different, something that game developers themselves can’t recreate: She’s selling her life. Kardashian West and the creative minds behind Kim Kardashian: Hollywood realized that there was a bored demographic of iPhone users who would jump at the chance to live out her star-studded public life on their smartphones. If she can build up a long enough list of money making apps, she’ll easily be on par with the biggest app-creators out there. In Kardashian West’s virtual world, does life imitate tech, or does tech imitate life? Does it even really matter?
No. In her game, users create their own celebrity (male or female), and then make friends with Kardashian while pursuing A-list fame. Celebrity is the new American dream, and Kardashian West lets users experience that dream first hand through living a virtual version of the life that she made for herself.
Before Kardashian West sold selfie books, got famous for a straight-to-the-internet home video, married Damon Thomas and Kris Humphries and Kanye West, she was the protege of the original reality queen, Paris Hilton. Kardashian rode Hilton’s coattails until her own talent for fame broke out, and then rode the wave all the way to A-lister status. That’s the storyline that Kim Kardashian: Hollywood follows too — Kardashian West has democratized the feeling of becoming famous through a friend by putting it into app form.
Now, Kardashian West is on top of the world. She has minions of her own, and more apps on the way. She makes fans pay for KIMOJI and beauty tutorials that include, incredibly, articles like “How to Go Four Days Without Washing Your Hair.” She is so on top of the app game that she can make money telling people how to not properly shower.
And it’s not like any celebrity can do this. The Forbes story notes that every star from Katy Perry to Justin Bieber has failed to capitalize on Kardashian’s level. Kardashian West has Bieber’s fame and a venture capitalist’s business sense; and she’s coming for your money through mobile games and microtransactions.
Earth is conquered, the internet is broken, and Kim K reigns supreme. The likelihood of her relinquishing her stranglehold on the celebrity app market is as likely as Kanye giving up his Twitter account. The traditional nerd-world may have to look to Scott Kelly as their final hope — he is the Kim Kardashian of space, of course.