Celebrities Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian West and two of their sisters are shutting down the app businesses they launched three years ago, a decision that reflects the changing ways audiences are consuming social media.
“We’ve had an incredible experience connecting with all of you through our apps these past few years but have made the difficult decision to no longer continue updating in 2019,” Jenner wrote on her website.
The apps launched in 2015, giving a preview of the lifestyle of the Kardashian and Jenner families. Fans paid $2.99 a month to find out details such as Khloe Kardashian’s workout routines or Kourtney Kardashian’s family recipes.
The sisters did not say why they decided to end their apps, which were developed by Lloyd Braun’s Whalerock Industries and sold in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play store. But industry analysts speculated the apps’ demise could be related to their waning popularity and the opportunity to make more money in other businesses.
In the last 90 days, Jenner’s app developed with Whalerock for Apple devices has dropped in ranking based on downloads. It was ranked 1,143 among the most downloaded apps in the U.S. entertainment category as of Tuesday, down from 462 on Sept. 25, according to app analytics firm App Annie. The Kardashian sisters’ individual apps made by Whalerock also showed a decline in download rankings, according to App Annie data.
Jenner and the Kardashians, stars of the TV series “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” may have decided to scrap the apps in order to focus on other businesses in which they can make more money, such as selling merchandise on their websites, said Ira Kalb, who teaches marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business.
“They feel that they got the power and they have a following and that would give them better control over the situation,” Kalb said.
More celebrities will likely follow the Kardashians’ decision, said Eugene Lee, chief executive of ChannelMeter, a San Francisco social video analytics firm.
In the past, some YouTubers tried to create their own individual apps, only to realize that audiences preferred viewing the information in popular apps where consumers can see other types of content, not just limited to that celebrity.
“What we’re seeing with the Kardashian apps [is that they’re] not immune to human behavior surrounding apps,” Lee said. “Humans want more than just one flavor.”
Also, there is a limit to how many apps people can consume. Consumers use an average of at least nine apps daily, with Facebook, Facebook Messenger, YouTube and Instagram as the top four most downloaded apps worldwide in the App Store from July 2010 to May 2018, according to App Annie.
The Kardashians are popular among women under 25 years old. As their fan base gets older, the sisters will want to go where those consumers spend their time, on sites such as Instagram, Lee said.
“Regardless of their celebrity status, it’s clear as their fans age with them, there is no reason for this,” Lee said. “You’re not going to have massive adoption.”
Indeed, Kourtney Kardashian said in a message to her fans to “make sure to follow me on Instagram to stay updated.”
Whalerock and representatives for Jenner and the Kardashian sisters did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The apps developed by Whalerock weren’t the only closure announcement the Kardashians made this year. In April, the sisters said they were closing their Dash retail stores.
The Jenner and Kardashian brands continue to make a lot of money. For example, Kylie Jenner’s net worth was recently estimated at $900 million by Forbes. Her business was boosted by selling cosmetics that are admired by her social media followers.