This week I downloaded an app called FameBooth. It took me all of 90 seconds to figure out how it worked. Basically, it lets you take a picture of a friend and then “cut out” that friend and put him or her on the red carpet. In other words, you can swap out an original background for one from music award and movie award shows so your friend looks famous. All in all, it consumed about 10 minutes of my life and cost me 99 cents. In my app-heavy experience, this download was not worth a loonie. Fifty cents? Maybe.
What is the fate of FameBooth? The way it stands now, it might continue to get a little buzz but then downloads will inevitably dip and then, ultimately, it will collect digital dust. Unlike books, which can be moved from top-shelf to bargain bin, there is no place for not-so-hot apps to go when they die. I mean, all apps are not created equal, so it would be nice to have a for sale section on iTunes and other app marketplaces where you could dive into clearance items for a couple quarters, or maybe less.
Even better, it would be interesting to have a black market for apps. Let’s say I buy one that I don’t like, I could then pass it on to my brother or a friend at a reduced price. After all, it’s not much use to me any more and is only taking up space on my smart phone or tablet. With a physical book or CD, I can at least unload them at a summertime garage sale. Owning an unwanted app is like owning air.
Maybe I’m just bitter because this month I looked at my iTunes bill and for what I paid on apps, I could have bought a dozen books or a pair of shoes or a week’s worth of groceries for the family. When I dig into how many of these downloads I still use, the number is pretty small. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a mobile enthusiast. I have a few apps that make my life easier and my work more productive. I’m increasingly excited about the endless possibilities for educational apps and apps for non-profits. I guess I’m just dreaming about a time when my tiny investment doesn’t go to waste. A time when I can re-sell what should rightfully be mine, and let someone else enjoy a little piece of it, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
For now, the fate of most apps isn’t so pretty, falling off the most popular charts, buried deep within marketplace, or even worse, deleted. As for FameBooth, RIP, thanks for the memories.