NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- While tons of Fortune 500 companies are scrambling to create an Apple (AAPL) iPhone app that helps promote their brand, the effort doesn't always pay off.
More than 80% of apps put out by major consumer and health care brands are downloaded less than 1,000 times, according to a new study released by Deloitte. And only 1% of these so-called branded apps are downloaded more than a million times.
The majority of these fail to gain traction because they simply aren't noticed, the report said. Many brands just aren't spending the resources they need to actively market their apps in a crowded environment -- passively posting an app and hoping for the best just won't do. This problem is only likely to get worse for brands as the number of apps increases exponentially. Apple's market-leading App Store boasts more than 350,000 apps -- up from less than 200,000 just a year ago.
But while most of these branded apps have trouble gaining traction with consumers, there are a few exceptions. Read on for the most popular -- and interesting branded apps, put out by well-known companies.
It may be somewhat pointless -- it doesn't help you organize, pay or play anything -- but the most popular branded app of all time is the virtual Zippo lighter, which has been downloaded more than 17.2 million times since its launch in early 2009. Its developer, Skyrockit, also received $2.6 million in venture funding also earlier this month from Intel Capital (INTC) .Especially popular at concerts and sporting events, users can enjoy a virtual animated lighter that they spark by flicking their fingers across the flint wheel -- the app even makes a sound when it's lit up.
Move your hand and the light will sway back and forth, as if blowing in the wind. And once you're done, just blow into the bottom of your phone and the light will go out (a feature that took several tries for us to work).
You can even select a lighter design from 28 free options and then purchase additional images, which range from the Harley Davidson logo to Ozzy Osbourne from a virtual lighter store, for 99 cents. You can also "engrave" the lighter by entering in the text of your choice.