Like "Sharknado" -- highly original, very popular, exceedingly silly -- the smartphone app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood has descended like a whirlwind and snapped up so many victims, er, players that it's projected to earn $200 million its first year.
Released by Glu Mobile in late June and supported by advertising and in-app purchases, it was the ninth-most-popular free download on the Apple App Store this week, behind only the likes of such perennials as GarageBand, Shazam and Kindle.
The premise? Your personalized avatar visits Hollywood hot spots to meet, flirt, date or just network with other players as you try to become an "A-list" model-actor. With enough social climbing, you get to hang out with reality-star and fashion entrepreneur Kardashian, 33, who supplied her character's voice.
Its fans seem to love it, though a persistent complaint is that you can't start where you leave off if you play on a different device than that on which you downloaded it. The Facebook connection also appears buggy. "No matter what we do me and my friend cant friend each other in the game with Facebook" goes one typically well-written and literate comment. As well, one mother told the App Store that Kim Kardashian: Hollywood allowed her "unsuspecting teen (13 yo)" to rack up $700 worth of in-app charges.
Glu, which has the official "RoboCop" and new "Hercules" movie apps, among many other offerings, already had the similar Stardom: Hollywood when it announced in November it had partnered with Kardashian. That app likewise lets a player "go from nobody to A-list celebrity" and "crash the best parties and hottest clubs." But the Kardashian brand -- with her 22.7 million followers on Twitter and 17.3 million on Instagram, where her app likeness greets you -- has propelled Kim Kardashian: Hollywood to those airy heights where birds get angry.
And if there's any doubt she intends to conquer the world, the version 1.2.0 update lets you fly to Paris, "where you join Kim to pursue new fashion and modeling opportunities." And Kardashian days ago announced yet another update, version 1.3.0: "London is one of my favs. Join me in this amazing city for a smashing good time. Cheers!"