The popular mobile gaming app Flappy Bird attracted a cult following before it was deleted from both the iOS and Android app stores. As a result, mobile devices with the game installed were selling for more than $100,000 on Internet auction sites. However, these highly-valued devices were removed from auction sites once they reached such prices for somewhat unknown reasons. The official emails sent from the auction site to the sellers indicate that it is a violation of Apple's terms to resell iPhones with anything other than factory-issued apps installed. it remains unclear whether or not the high prices the iPhones were commanding before the auctions were terminated were legitimate.
The Flappy Bird app became a cultural phenomenon when it soared to the No. 1 position on the most downloaded charts in early 2014. It was a simple game that consisted of tapping on your phone's screen to propel a bird-like character through the air. The goal was to guide the bird through Super Mario-inspired tubes for as long as possible. If the bird touched any of the tubes, then it would "die" and the player's score would be reset. The simply designed game captivated the attention of both iPhone and Android users, resulting in a cultural movement as the gaming app rose to represent the zeitgeist of the smartphone generation.
The popularity of the app was overwhelming, so much so that the game's creator, Dong Nguyen, decided to remove it from app stores in early February. At the game's height, Nguyen was reported to be making $50,000 a day on ad sales alone from the popularity of his free-to-download app. The sudden removal left a significant vacuum in the general public, who still demanded the game despite its cut-off supply. This led to iPhones with the game installed appearing on Internet auction sites, and fetching bids of $100,000.
The auction's cancelation
For somewhat mysterious reasons, the organization hosting the auctions pulled the iPhones from the site. The website failed to provide a strong, consistent reason, and even left up some similar iPhones with Flappy Bird that were receiving bids for much less, although still significantly above the phone's market value. It is likely that the prices of the iPhones selling for upwards of $100,000 were overinflated through fraudulently placed bids, however the website has released no official statement to that effect.