29

Recently I read that the author of the 99 cent iFart Mobile application for the iPhone makes nearly 10,000 US$ a day (!) with his flatulence simulator.

Do you know of any other silly or useless, but commercially successful software products? Perhaps there is a pattern and we all can find recession-proof software niches as competition heats up. ;-)

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and on the Christmas day alone 40,000 downloads = 30,000 US$ - a tasteful present, isn't it? No silent night last year...

30

"I am rich" application for iPhone.

Armin Heinrich has released an app on the iTunes App Store called I Am Rich [App Store]. The $999.99 application displays a red icon on your iPhone and iPod touch to remind others that you were able to afford it. As the developer notes, "it's a work of art with no hidden function at all."

20

I'm sure everybody remembers this one:

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From Wikipedia:

The Tamagotchi (?????) is a handheld digital pet created in 1996 by Aki Maita and sold by Bandai. Over 70 million Tamagotchis have been sold as of 2008. More and more will be made in reference of this new technology. The Tamagotchi is housed in a small and simple egg-shaped computer. Three buttons (A, B, and C) allow the user to select and perform an activity, including:

  • Feeding the Tamagotchi a piece of food or a snack.
  • Playing games with the Tamagotchi.
  • Cleaning up a Tamagotchi's waste.
  • Checking its age, discipline, hunger, happiness and other statistics
  • Connecting with other friends
18

For those of you who remember SoftRAM (category: Placebo software):

SoftRAM screenshot

SoftRAM and SoftRAM95 were system software products which claimed to "double" the available memory in Microsoft Windows without the need for a hardware upgrade.

In July 1996, Developers Syncronys settled charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission of "false and misleading" claims in relation to the capability of the software. The product was rated the third "Worst Tech Product of All Time" by PC World in 2006.

(from the SoftRAM Wikipedia article)

14

Microsoft Works. Not only is it useless compared to both Office and OpenOffice.org, it's an oxymoron.

10

This is another face of one of the key principles of the universe:

Life is not fair.

And of course a law of economics:

if somebody pays for it, it has value
if a lot of people pay for it, it makes you rich.

There is no logic in economy.

9

Election machines

8

"With ignorance and confidence, success is certain." ~ Mark Twain

6

Windows ME

Let's bolt the Windows 2000 theme over Windows 98 with some half-baked extras and sell it as a whole new OS!

I was working in tech support when this was released - I don't there was a customer out there that didn't have problems with Windows ME.

5

I'd nominate just about any of the "Aquarium" or similar screensavers. There's even a Widget for the Mac that runs an aquarium - complete with sounds - just in case you want to quickly pop it up and see what the fishies are doing.

5

Anti-Mosquito software:

Are you constantly swatting away mosquitoes as you work at your computer? Here's your solution: anti-mosquito software. A Thai computer programmer named Saranyou Punyaratanabunbhu developed it about two years ago, and it proved so wildly successful that he soon came out with version 2.0, that also promised to repel cockroaches and rats. It drives away the nasty critters by making your computer speakers emit high-pitched frequencies.

But does it actually work? Well, I wouldn't bet on it. As the pest control experts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln note in their Cockroach Control Manual, "There is no scientific evidence to suggest that cockroaches (or any other insects) respond negatively to ultrasonic sound waves." Still, this hasn't stopped a South Korean phone company, SK Telecom, from offering anti-mosquito software that you can download to your cellphone.

Probably entirely useless, but still pretty popular.

Originally posted by Colin Pickard

5

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http://www.enchanterx.com/

I don't know if it sells :) But I will not be surprised if it does.

4

I agree with Paul Richardson that a discussion of what makes a software product compelling and enticing for its intended audience would be helpful to us. Quite often we happily go about designing and developing software that captures nobody's heart other than our own.

I do not own an iPhone and I am probably too old to use that particular software even if I did carry an iPhone or there exists ports for my mobile phone. However, just by looking at that lone pic you pasted sends me laughing. For such a subject matter, I thought the art and theme of the app was absolute class. And I suspect that has something to do with the number of people who install that.

I am also supposing the majority of such users are going to be of a younger age group, so 99 cents is not likely to eat too much into lunch money and requiring fasting for three days. Heck, for 99 cents most folks may even play with it for a week to a month, then uninstall it forever. I know I spent alot more on lotteries, and I am not even habitual at that. If you can position your twinkle app at a "disposable" or "throw away" price, buyers are less likely to regret it even when it is not a great product.


My nomination: Bejeweled

Bejeweled

2

Online casinos

I looked it up in Wikipedia. Didn't know there are even different types:

  • Web-based online casinos: websites where users may play casino games without downloading software to the local computer. Games are mainly represented in the browser plugins Macromedia Flash, Macromedia Shockwave, or Java and require browser support for these plugins.

  • Download-based online casinos: require the download of the software client in order to play and wager on the casino games offered.

  • Live-based casino gaming: allows web players to interact with games played in a real world casino environment. Online players can see, hear, and interact with live dealers at tables in casino studios worldwide.

1

software for gambling on horse-racing!!

not only is it stupid, but it can ruin families.

-1

MS-DOS!

(maby not completely useless, but silly nevertheless :))