You won't win friends or influence people with a whoopee cushion. But buy a virtual farting application for your iPhone and effortless upward social mobility is yours. Possibly. Welcome to the world of BragApps: mobile applications purchased solely for the purpose of showing off.
A few years ago, mobile bragging rights were all about the handsets. Motorola sold millions of RAZR phones to people whose sole handset requirement was to slap it down on a pub table and boast about its laser-etched keypad. Lucky for them that the oohs and ahhs ensued, given the lack of any other convincing reasons to buy a RAZR.
Nowadays, people don't really big up their handsets. Brags about phone swag - from touchscreens to GPS to a 5-megapixel camera - are less impressive when your friends' phones have those things too. Instead, social currency is now gained from having the latest and often silliest BragApps.
The iPhone started it. Forget Super Monkey Ball or Facebook: the buzz around the launch of the App Store last July was more about iPint and PhoneSaber Unleashed. You could quibble over whether downing virtual pints or waving virtual lightsabers represents progress, but millions of iPhone owners were too busy sloshing and swishing to care.
BragApps are breaking new gloating ground – and wind. It's all about the farting: iFart, Fart for Free, FartFX, Fart Piano, Bikini Fart, Fart Machine, Cow Fart, Fartamongus and the marvellously named Flash! Fart! Vibrate! These are just a few of the hundreds of flatulence-related iPhone BragApps. You won't find Apple trumpeting their sales, but these apps are being downloaded in the millions.
A more highbrow example is a suite of apps released by Trixcell that focus on magic tricks. Bending spoons, hiding balls under cups, pick-a-card can all be performed using the phone. People buy them to show off to their friends, who then buy them to show off to their friends, and so on. It's genuinely viral.
BragApps are often low cost and low brow and rarely remain fresh for more than a week or so. But that's the whole point. When millions of people are finding reasons to show off their phones - even for a raspberry tart - the reaction from the mobile industry should be a resounding horn tooting.