For years, keeping up with the Kardashians (the TV show and the cottage industry around the family) has flown over my radar. The gossip-fueled celebrity news machine around the family’s marriages, disputes, babies, break-ups and fashion lines has always met my expectations of pop culture royalty and remained in the murmur of news I don’t care about.
That changed last year, however, when I learned that Kim made over $550,000 a day on her Kim Kardashian: Hollywood app in the first week. The gamified app positions Kim as your mentor as you climb the rungs of Hollywood to become an A-list celebrity. The majority of revenue comes from “micro-transactions” which include buying more energy to complete levels and upgrading your avatar’s outfit. The game brought maker Glu Mobile a total of $43 million in its first quarter last year, and is still going strong.
This week, all five Kardashian sisters made the move into the app game as a united front. At a launch event on Monday at New York’s Apple store in Soho, four of the five Kardashian/Jenner sisters debuted their personal apps as a digital destination to unlock each of their lives (the fifth, Kourtney’s, will follow soon)— and now they have my full attention, along with that of their massive fan base.
Jen Garcia, a former editor at People Los Angeles bureau who oversees content for the sisters’ apps (a family partnership with veteran entertainment exec Lloyd Braun’s Whalerock Industries, who’s also working with Tyler the Creator and Howard Stern), told WWD that, “[The sisters] wanted each of these apps to be reflective of their different personalities. You’re going to see overlap but also really personal themes.” What’s more, “momager” Kris Jenner will be in the loop but not directly involved.
Within the first 24 hours of the Klub Kardasian/Jenner collective app launch, 891,340 people had subscribed to the four apps, according to TMZ. The allure: exclusive content and access to individualized behind-the-scenes footage for a monthly subscription of $2.99. This gated approach will likely deter critics and internet trolls who the celebrity sisters are burdened with on the many other social media platforms they are active on.
The challenge for this mobile model—estimated to earn the family $32 million in year one—will be to continually produce content that is differentiated enough from their public social platforms to warrant the monthly fee, as the sisters have made no indication that their social and media presence will change moving forward. So the pressure’s on Garcia and each sister to keep the content flowing, engaging, differentiated and dynamic.
All four apps are available for a free seven-day trial. Kylie Jenner’s app currently sits at number 1, Khloé’s at number 8, Kim’s at number 11, Kendall’s brings up the rear at Number 16 and Kourtney’s is still in the works.
To get a better understanding of fan expectations and what differentiates each app, I spoke with a loyal Kardashian follower for the details from a fan’s perspective.
Q: So what are these apps all about?
A: It’s all proprietary content for each of them, with “behind the scenes” and “exclusive looks” that you can’t access without paying a monthly fee
Q: So what would drive someone to own more than one of the sisters’ apps?
A: Each one is super-personalized to each girl’s specific “thing.”
Q: Like what?
A: I guess I can only really compare it to the Spice Girls, how each girl had a different “personality” so different fans could all relate to different ones. It’s obviously less intense than Sporty Spice and Posh Spice, but you’ve got:
Kendall, who’s a supermodel who is tall and lanky and is in all of the top Fashion Week shows. She is truly one of the biggest models in the world in high fashion, so her app goes behind-the-scenes at fashion shows and Fashion Week necessities.
Kylie’s app has lots of beauty makeup tutorials, because she is famous for her insane makeup and hair and nails.
Khloé is obsessed with fitness and just got into insane shape and has kind of always struggled with weight, so she has lots of fitness stuff on her app.
Kim’s is just so Kim. It’s going to be peeks into North West’s wardrobes, her hanging with Kanye and selfies.
When Kourtney’s is released it will be about parenting stuff, kids fashion and interior design—she’s like the normal mom of all of them.
Four is already proving to be better than one as the world can now witness another level of intimacy, authenticity and rivalry between the sisters. And who says there can’t be drama in the world of apps—Khloe is already defending herself against accusations of not downloading her sister’s apps, while an apparent security flaw has exposed the personal data of the users who have signed up for the sisters’ apps.
—Eileen Vogl is a New York-based brand storyteller and writer.