Why Buy a Flappy Bird iPhone When You Can Rent One?

2 minute read

I swear I’m going to stop writing about Flappy Bird real soon now. I encourage all my fellow tech bloggers to do the same. But hey, at the moment, writing about Flappy Bird is the playing Flappy Bird of tech journalism — a quick, addictive, rote way to burn through a few minutes, and not something that anyone will look back on with pride, or any other type of emotion, a few months from now.

And actually, I do have a follow-up to my weekend story about people trying to sell phones with pre-installed Flappy on eBay, now that the game has been pulled from the App Store and Google Play.

Reader Jeff Nelson wrote to tell me that he tried putting his iPhone 5 with Flappy Bird on eBay, but got a message from the auction site reading, in part:

Smartphones and tablets must be restored to factory settings before they are allowed to be sold on eBay. Please remove all content from your device, including the game Flappy Bird, before you attempt to list your item again. Please be sure your current and future listings follow these guidelines, keeping in mind that additional listing violations could result in the suspension of your account.

If eBay is trying to rid its listings of Flappy Bird, it’s having a hard time keeping up with the influx: There are lots of phones being offered right now. But Nelson has abandoned eBay for a new strategy. He’s offering to rent his phone on Craigslist, letting people play Flappy Bird without that up-front investment of hundreds of dollars.

(Actually, his Craigslist item doesn’t specify a price, and I’m afraid to ask.)

Is there an actual market for Flappy Bird, at any price? I’m not sure. I checked completed eBay listings for Flappy-ready phones, and some of them have sold. But the prices people are allegedly paying range up to $10,000 — so the whole phenomenon, including Nelson’s offer, may be an entertaining act of mass performance art rather than real commerce. Or at least I hope so.

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