THE STORY

On May 24th, 2013, Dong Nguyen, a 28-year-old programmer from Vietnam, launched a simple game with a funny looking bird he called Flappy Bird. It ranked 892 in the family game category on the App Store. Then it fell off altogether, unloved, unknown.

Eight months later, that little bird slowly clawed its way back until it went viral, proudly sitting at number 1. It sang its heart out in more than 100 countries and was downloaded over 50 million times!

But people had a love-hate relationship with Flappy. After all, having to maneuver an excitable little creature through gaps was both aggravating and addictive. They took to Twitter to vent, the first of which said, “F*ck Flappy Bird.”

As Flappymania peaked, playful five-star reviews spoke of bleeding fingers, cracked screens and eyes duct taped open. At first, Nguyen played along. But after constant interview requests and accusations of using ‘bots’ to raise Flappy’s profile, he cracked.

Word got out that Nguyen was earning around $50,000 a day. Not even Zuckerberg became rich so fast. How dare he earn that much and complain? That’s when the death threats started.

On February 8th he tweeted: “I am sorry Flappy Bird users, 22 hours from now, I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this anymore.” 10 million people rushed to download it. And after raking in over a million dollars, Nguyen’s little feathered friend was gone forever.

Game over.

Dong Nguyen having a smoke.

ASK AROUND

It is unknown why the app suddenly went viral 8 months later. It is certain however that staying at the top requires tapping into the needs and desires of a specific audience. Sometimes, getting feedback from as little as 20 or 100 people is enough to truly understand if what you’re offering is going to interest anyone at all. Ask around… and read between the lines.

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© Story by Tarek Issa.

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