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Top 7 Celebrity Apps

Updated on February 29, 2016

You’ve probably heard that mobile app developers are going through difficult times. With over 3 million applications on the App Store and Google Play, the competition is getting really tough. By 2018, less than 0.01% of all mobile apps will be commercially successful. It turns out indie developers and startups don’t stand a chance in the real world, right?

Well, it depends.

Provided you have a great idea for an app, build an MVP, choose the right monetization strategy and don’t save on marketing, you can replicate the success of Rovio (the driving force behind the Angry Birds game).

Or you can take a lesson from Hitcents.

Celebrity apps: a gold mine for developers

The Kentucky-based company was founded by Clinton and Chris Mills in 1999. Originally they went for online advertising, but ended up developing websites and applications. Hitcents was never flopping. After all, their Draw a Stickman app generated 5 million downloads and won three Webby Awards. It’s just that they didn’t have a hit.

When they partnered with Tom Hanks, everything’s changed. The Academy award-winning actor addressed Hitcents to design the Hanx Writer app – a simple virtual typewriter application (I promise to tell more about it later). In mere weeks after its launch, Hanx Writer hit the #1 spot on iTunes.

Was there anything special about the app? I don’t think so. The program simply allows you to pretend you’re typing a message on a retro typewriter. It features only one font and doesn’t correct mistakes: if you make one, you’ll have to start writing all over again.

Yet, it is Tom Hanks who made the app popular. The guy has over 8 million followers on Twitter, what did you expect?

Ever since Hitcents started working with the actor, 38% of their revenue has been coming from apps (compared to 1% 5 years ago).

In case you’re a vendor and struggle to make an impact on the market, consider partnering with a local celebrity.

Here are some celebrity app ideas to draw inspiration from.

Celebrity Apps worth your attention

  • Path to Fame (by Demi Lovato). The former Disney Channel star launched her own mobile app in 2015. With the app, you can create a customized character and try to make a music career as Lovato’s backing vocalist. Throughout the game, you have to make several decisions that may prevent you from becoming a star (like making up with an ex or taking part in the GlamLips singing competition). Path to Fame’s main plot consists of 12 episodes, and more stories will be available soon. The good thing about it is that you move up your career ladder without in-app purchases. Unfortunately, you can choose neither the gender of your character nor his (well, it’s just “her”!) sexual preferences. The game is largely focused on Demi Lovato and will surely engage her die-hard fans;
  • Greeting Cards (by Taylor Swift). The singer who sold over 40 million albums and 130 million singles worldwide released the Greeting Cards app in 2013 (probably to fuel her Red album sales, since the app’s interface is reminiscent of the album’s artwork, and some of the Red songs are featured). Using the app, you can make a customized greeting card and send it to a friend via Facebook, Twitter, email or SMS. A nice treat for dedicated Swifties;
  • Hollywood (by Kim Kardashian). The girl who “is famous for nothing” released the Hollywood app almost two years ago. Ever since, the game got over 28 million downloads and generated $ 200 million in revenues. What makes people spend money on virtual photoshoots and moving along with Kim’s real life? Well, it’s her brand power and clever marketing decisions her team makes. On the day of Hollywood’s launch, Kardashian went on vocation to Mexico, and that’s where the game characters could go also. Kim shared holiday pics via Instagram and kept users engaged. To prolong the game’s lifecycle, Kim has plans to get her animated family members on board;
  • Hanx Writer (by Tom Hanks). I’ve mentioned this one already. The app has a stripped-down interface and imitates the sounds of a real typewriter. You can also unlock extra features (like different fonts) via in-app purchases. Tom Hanks has been obsessed with typewriters since 1978; he’s got over 200 old-fashioned typewriters in his collection. What makes the Hanx Writer app a huge hit? Why, the power of nostalgia! I think we all miss the Turner and Hooch days – the days when people used to write letters, go for long walks and talk to each other;
  • Biophilia (by Bjork). When Biophilia hit the charts in 2011, Bjork became the first artist ever to release an app record. The program features 10 mysterious videos to accompany the album’s tracks. It is the interactive approach that makes Biophilia so special. The 3-dimensional visuals, lyrics, games and music entwine together to from a whole new Universe, and listeners can take part in the process. According to Bjork, she wanted people “to see the sounds”. Well, she’s certainly reached her goal;
  • Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee (by Alicia Keys). In one of her 2012 interviews Alicia Keys said journalism had always been an important part of her life, and that’s how the app idea was born. The Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee app is designed for kids to express themselves through drawings and diary entries, follow breath-taking stories, explore imaginary worlds and (of course!) listen to music. The app is extremely well-done and intelligent – pretty much like everything Alicia’s engaged in;
  • Psych! Outwit Your Friends (by Ellen Degeneres). The famous American actress and comedian is now a brand of her own. Ellen is no stranger to technology: in 2013, she released the Heads up! party game – to rave reviews and commercial success. The new Psych! Outwit Your Friends application continues the party trend. You can play the game in three categories, including Movie Buff!, Is That a Fact? and Word Up! Players make up false answers to some trivia questions and then try to guess the correct ones. Spice it up with cocktails and dance music, and you’ll have a good old crazy party!

Path to Fame
Path to Fame
Greeting Cards
Greeting Cards
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood
Hanx Writer
Hanx Writer
Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee
Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee
Psych! Outwit Your Friends
Psych! Outwit Your Friends

Celebrity apps’ sales are surely powered by stardom. However, it takes more than a famous name to engage users and make a continuous impact. In order to build a great and commercially successful application, you need a reliable vendor with great experience in mobile development and...a bright app idea!

P.S. If I were to choose my favorite app from the list, I’d probably pick the typewriter (yeah, I like Tom Hanks). What about you? Feel free to comment on the article!


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