The Mona Lisa. The Taj Mahal. The Great Wall of China.
All are wonders that far exceed their simplest descriptions — a painting, a building and an extreme attempt at border control.
But they are so much more than that, because there is something about them that is awe-inspiring. And also a little hard to believe are real — except for the fact that they are.
And we at PYMNTS wonder whether when our descendants write the history of the early 21st century, they will feel compelled to add the Kardashian Klan to that elite list of manmade wonders. Scientists have invested real time and money researching their obvious hold on the human species. “Does Kendall Jenner exist outside her public persona, such that she can survive her own death?” was the subject of a paper delivered by a PhD in metaphysics at a prestigious academic conference that eminent minds actually pay to go to. (Or what was once a prestigious conference until this paper was presented, perhaps.)
However, whether one is a massive fan of the Kardashian Klan, or relatively convinced they really are the four horseman of the apocalypse and we just haven’t figured that out yet, the Kardashians are indisputably pioneering disruptive innovators in the field of branding and marketing.
Of course, the Kardashian family did not invent branding, but they may be the first human beings in history to evolve past their species and into a pure brand itself. Donald Trump is so good at it that people think it may qualify him to be the President of the United States. Donald Trump, however, had to go to Wharton. Kim Kardashian, ah, found a different path to mogul-hood.
But no matter how you cut it, the Kardashians are a brand. Made famous, of course, by reality TV.
Which makes this week’s announcement of the Kardashians’ latest expansion into mobile one of life’s basic inevitabilities.
This is not their first toehold into staying with their fans via their phones. Kardashian mobile interactions with social media have broken the Internet more than a few times and served as an inspiration to narcissists everywhere and consumer products manufacturers (Samsung is advertising that its new smartphone is the best phone for taking selfies).
The Kardashians also have a handful of mobile games that are reported to be very expensive to play and low on any interesting action unless you like shopping. But popular nonetheless, because (all together now) it carries the “Kardashian” brand.
The new apps, however, seem to be an interesting way to skirt all that social media — and interact “individually” with their fans, separate from the standard social media rails. And, surprise, surprise, for a price. Will it work? Hard to say, but it’s certainly seen an out the door pop — followed by some serious security troubles.
KaaS (Kardashians As A Service)
We all had to see this coming, right?
Earlier this week the Kardashian Klan dropped their mobile apps — Kim, Khloe, Kylie and Kendall all released into the world their own very special digital destinations chock full of original Kardashian content. That includes fun videos of them doing fun stuff with famous people, makeup tips, product reviews and the truth about Kylie’s more personal body parts.
[We don’t invent the news, but do feel it is our sad and solemn duty, in this case, to report it.]
Just about 891K of the Kardashian-obsessed signed up for those apps in the first 24 hours, according to reports — and since the pleasure of Kardashian digital company comes for ~$3 a month (Kardashians-as-a-Service) — that could amount to some serious change for the Klan by year’s end. Some analysts project the Kardashian machine banking a cool $32 million from this KaaS application.
The most monetizable Kardashian? Guess again. Kylie is the big digital draw, responsible for a whopping 74 percent of downloads. Khloe is in the silver medal spot with 11 percent, leaving Kim in third.
[And we bet she hates being third.]
And then there’s Kendall in last place with 6 percent of subscribers.
The Bigger You Are, The Faster You’re Hacked
With its app store domination, the Kardashians may have finally found a type of attention they don’t want: that of hackers.
Except it wasn’t a hacker. Not really. It was one teenage developer who quite accidentally immediately found a big bug.
It allowed him to pull the full names and email addresses of over 600,000 users who signed up for Kylie Jenner’s website as well as similar user data from the other websites. He also found he could create and destroy user photos, though he chose not to do so.
19-year-old Alaxic Smith is a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Communly, a mobile app that lets users connect with others to share their interests.
After logging into the site with his name and password, Smith was directed to a webpage that contained the first and last names and email addresses of the 663,270 people who had signed up for the site, he says. At this point he realized that he had basically discovered an unsecured API that was very, very easy to screw around with from the outside.
Whalerock Industries, the team behind the app, has confirmed there was briefly a problem, but notes that the loophole has been closed. Also, thankfully — though users risk their name, data and the fact that they paid money to have on-demand access to all that is Kardashian exposed — payments are handled by a third-party vendor who knows what they are doing. That means the app was never in possession of payment information – great news for all.
So will the Kardashians be the new force in mobile?
The security breach doesn’t seem to have harmed downloads notably as of yet, but it might be too early to break out the victory Cristal, (Kim’s favorite brand).
All of those apps are still in the free trial phase — and as any number of subscription services with free trials have found, it is easy to get people to sign up for free, it is hard to keep them once it starts costing. Conversion is tough.
But, comparatively, Kardashian content is cheap, and the fascination with the Kardashians is intense, so maybe more than the typical number of users will keep up with the Kardashian subscription merely because it is cheap and a hassle to discontinue once signed up.
And because they always make news. After all, who wants to be called out for not knowing what Kylie is wearing, what Kendall looks like on her way to her workout, and how Kimye is holding up in her last few months of pregnancy.
Just more proof that, love ’em or hate ’em, the Kardashian Klan is not just a couple of pretty faces wearing haute couture — they are among the savviest marketers in the business.