Angry Birds are so 2010. At least so far this year. The puzzle video game that became an iPhone sensation last year has lost its familiar perch atop the list of free games in Apple's iTunes App store to a game called "Bubble Ball" created by a 14-year-old Utah boy. Bubble Ball's 2 million downloads over the past two weeks has relegated the wildly popular (not to mention weird) Angry Birds to the No. 2 slot among free smartphone applications. Does this mean the bird is no longer the word? Encouraged by his friends, Robert Nay of Spanish Fork, Utah, decided to try his own hand at building a smartphone app, according to ABC News. The eighth-grader found a software developer's kit while doing research in the public library (they still have those?) and spent more than a month pecking away at his creation for about two hours a day. The result? Bubble Ball, described in the App store as a "fun, new physics puzzle game, where you will test your ingenuity and thinking skills to get the bubble to the goal." Nay's efforts define success born of determination. From ABC News: "There were some times when I felt like, 'Can people seriously do this?' It seemed impossible," he said. "But then there were times when things just worked and I'd be like, 'Maybe I can actually do this.'" Nay says he's already hard at work on his next, "secret" app, for which he plans to charge people. (Can a Nay Enterprises IPO be far behind?) The ABC News article says Nay excels at school (no surprise, given that he reportedly created his first website in the third grade) and plays piano, trumpet and mandolin. One word of advice, young man: Building applications is all well and good, but keep up with your school work and practice on those instruments. The world needs more good mandolin players.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.