Big name apps like Facebook and Snapchat typically sit at the top of the App Store’s free chart, but somehow a ridiculous app from an unknown developer dethroned them all.
And the best part is that even its creator has no idea how it happened.
Like Parent by Thai developer Mualchon Chatsuwan lets you compare pictures of your mum and dad to see which one you look like more — well, that’s how the app pitches itself. In reality, its results are completely random. On top of its intrinsic uselessness, the app is poorly designed and riddled with ads.
Yet somehow Like Parent managed to become the top free app in the US App Store for most of the week, and as of this writing still sits among the top five. It’s been downloaded over one million times. With hundreds of one star reviews in the App Store, how in the world did it manage to get so popular?
“When I made this app, the original idea was ‘How I can made the app that anyone can use?'” Chatsuwan, who’s app has been downloaded 1.3 million times over the last 10 days, told Business Insider in an email. He claims that he’s never paid to have his app promoted, and its success is a “mystery for me too.”
Chatsuwan has 78 apps in the App Store currently, his biggest hit behind Like Parent being a similar app called Like Animal (the name has since been changed to AnimalCam). It’s based around the same concept, but instead shows you what kind of animal you supposedly look like.
“In Thailand, people will get mad at you when you tell him that you are a buffalo or water lizard or dog,” Chatsuwan explained. “I think this kind of humour in my app makes people like it and want to try to play it to see what they look like.”
AnimalCam, which is free to play but also has ads, has been downloaded 1.28 million times and was the top free app in the Thai App Store for two weeks. Thai celebrities started sharing screenshots of the app on social media, and the buzz got to a point where it was getting shown on local TV shows.
I had to see what the fuss was about. So I downloaded Like Parent and gave it a try.
Here’s what you see when you first open the app:
The main windows has places to put photos of your parents and yourself to compare. You can choose from either your Camera Roll or take a picture. Notice the trashy dating ad banner at the bottom.
The app’s menu is cluttered with ads.
Good luck reading the disclaimer. It admits that the app’s results are completely made up.
For the sake of experimenting, I chose two of my colleagues to be my parents, Steve Kovach and Cadie Thompson.
“Using advanced algorithm.”
Surprise! I look 80% like Steve and only 20% like Cadie.
Just to be sure, lets try again.
That’s interesting. Guess I’m a momma’s boy.
Like Parent is the definition of an overnight success, according to App Store data collected by App Annie. As you can see from the chart below, it shot to the top of the store like a rocket ship, debuting in the US overall free chart at number 218 on Wednesday, May 27.
From there, the app enjoyed a steady ascent to the coveted number one spot in the App Store from June 1 through 4. As of this writing, it’s dropped to the number three position under two apps from Facebook.
Looking back at data provided by App Annie, you can see that Like Parent experienced random, huge spikes in traffic four times since it came out during the spring of 2014. But this most recent spike blows the others’ away.
Like Parent has been most successful in the US by far, which is interesting given its creator’s background. So far Chatsuwane has managed to reach the top spot overall in the US, Thailand, Loas, the Dominican Republic, and Mongolia.
Chatsuwan’s overnight success reminds me a little of Dong Nguyen’s with Flappy Bird, except of course that there was a real, compelling reason to play Flappy Bird and tell your friends about it. Like Parent has hundreds of one-star reviews in the App Store, with many calling it a scam or ripoff.
What does Apple think of Chatsuwan’s app? He’s never been contacted, so he has no idea. “I think they might think this is just another silly app,” said Chatsuwan.
How much money has he made? “It’s classified. :)”