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Kim Kardashian West on Social Media, Mobile Games and Her Polarizing Fame

Could Kim Kardashian West save BlackBerry? The "gold medalist of oversharing" explains the success of her mobile game at Code/Mobile.

Asa Mathat

In front of a crowd filled with T-shirt-and-button-down-wearing tech insiders, Kim Kardashian West gave an onstage interview to Re/code’s Kara Swisher earlier today about, quite simply, the business of being herself.

Speaking at the Code Mobile conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif., the reality TV star and mobile app mogul discussed the art of oversharing, her favorite app, even her desire to buy BlackBerry — not just a BlackBerry (although, she keeps three on rotation), but the actual company.

She also spoke about the success of her mobile game, and how connecting to audiences through TV is wholly different from connecting on social media.

“Why do people not take you seriously?” Re/code co-editor Kara Swisher asked Kardashian, kicking off the interview.

“I don’t know. That is a question that sometimes I get frustrated with,” said Kardashian West, glowing in all-white against Re/code’s blue backdrop and signature red chairs. “I pride myself with my work ethic, and I work really hard.”

“I think when people hear that I might have gotten success off of a ‘reality show,’ they take that as a negative. We’re in our tenth season. We have more episodes than ‘I Love Lucy.’ We have so many milestones that people don’t think about.”

Asa Mathat

Kardashian went on to say that most people don’t understand how much she works. “I wake up every single day at 6 am, and go to the gym, and get my daughter up, feed my baby, film all day, sometimes don’t finish until 8 or 9 pm, and that’s every single day, six days a week, for five months straight while we’re filming … I don’t think reality TV gets the respect it deserves.”

Should it get respect?” Swisher said. “I mean, you are like the Olympics of oversharing.”

“I’ve always just been open. I’ve been super-open with my life, and that’s just who I am, and that’s how my family is, too,” Kardashian West responded, noting later in the interview that she handles all of her social media posting — and seemed genuinely flabbergasted that other celebs might have teams do this for them.

Kardashian West first gained notoriety for something very unrelated to her G-rated mobile game. But it was “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” an E! network reality television show starring her extended family, that made her a household name. (Kardashian West slyly dodged Swisher’s question about past Internet regrets, saying if she could take back any oversharing incidents, it might be the online beauty tutorials she once made.)

Kardashian West has since mogul-ized herself, having launched a series of spinoff shows, a cosmetics line, a clothing line and a chain of retail stores — and then there’s her many endorsement and appearance deals. She also has an impressive social media presence, with more than 24.7 million Twitter followers. She posts frequently and revealingly to Instagram, where 20 million people follow her photos.

She is a polarizing figure. Her traffic-stopping looks are both heralded and microscopically picked apart, as is often the case with Hollywood stars (“Is Kim’s [Butt] Real or Not?” one gossip magazine recently asked). After a super-short-lived marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries, she is now married to rapper Kanye West, with whom she has a daughter named North.

When asked which medium is more important to her now — TV or social media — Kardashian West said they both serve their purposes. She described the reality show as 10 years worth of “well-shot, well-lit home movies” that her family can share for the rest of their lives, whereas social media is what has “allowed my career to sustain, and I’ve adapted to the change of it all.”

The rumor that she gets paid $10,000 per tweet is false, Kardashian West told the audience at Code Mobile. “I would have been tweeting every two seconds if it was true,” she joked.

Asa Mathat

Some of her private moments — the few she doesn’t share on social media — include time spent with her daughter, like bath time, she divulged.

While she loves “communicating with people” on Twitter, which she says can be an “amazing focus group,” her favorite app of the moment is Instagram.

“I’m loving Instagram. I think you can be really creative, and a little more intimate. It has more texture than just words, obviously,” Kardashian West said. She also volunteered that she has “a three-image rule. In the same setting, I try not to do more than three. It oversaturates my feed.”

As for the preferred phone she uses for all these social media blasts, Kardashian West admitted that she’s betrothed to BlackBerry — even joking before the interview that she’d like to buy the company.

“I love my BlackBerry. I don’t understand the reaction I get when I say that,” she said.

“Well, it’s the Model T of phones,” Swisher replied.

“It’s my heart and soul, I love it and I’ll never get rid of it,” Kardashian West insisted. “I do have an iPhone, and I use it for photos. But if you write an email and you need to type fast — I like having the [key]board. They don’t even have them in stores anymore. I buy them on eBay. It’s a BlackBerry Bold. And I like to have three in my room that I line up in case they break.”

“Have you gone to Waterloo to discuss it with them? Why don’t you become a spokesmodel?” Swisher suggested.

“I feel like I should. I’m going to make a call after this,” Kardashian West gamely replied.

But on to more serious business: This past June, San Francisco-based Glu Mobile and Kardashian West released Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, a free game for iOS devices that allows players to be Kim for a day and go gallivanting through Hollywood.

The game involves in-app purchases: Users can spend “as much as $99.95 for 175,000 virtual dollars. A trip to Beverly Hills costs 4 game ‘dollars,’ while 400 will buy a necklace,” Bloomberg reported in a story about the game. That same story cites an analyst’s estimate that the game could reach $200 million in revenue this year.

Kardashian West wouldn’t offer specifics on whether that estimate is accurate, saying only, “We’ll never talk dollars and cents … It could be more. It could be less. It’s been very good to me.”

Earlier this month, app research firm App Annie said that the mobile game had fallen significantly in app download rankings, but Kardashian West pointed out that the app’s ranking is on the rise again.

“Thanks to bikinis in Mexico?” Swisher quipped, referencing Kardashian West’s earlier story about players in the game actually mimicking Kim and Kanye’s (real-life) vacation to Mexico, which was eventually exposed by the paparazzi. Kardashian West said she was working with Glu Mobile to introduce more characters to the game (more members of the Kardashian family, perhaps?) and a FaceTime-like feature that allows players to “chat” with Kim.

Toward the end of the interview, Swisher pressed Kardashian West on what’s next for her in mobile, asking whether she thought it was possible to do an entire show through something like Vine, the six-second video app.

“I think you could,” Kardashian West said, smiling.

“I think she’s getting an idea,” Swisher said to the audience.

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