App developers have gone insane with releases ever since that day in 2008 when Apple said they could build programs for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Entire companies and fortunes have been built around the small pieces of software that run on these products, but is it possible Apple is getting jealous of all the money flowing into the pockets of these third-party companies?
Last month it came to light that Apple had posted a job listing that sounded an awful lot like the company was looking into game app development. The listing has since been removed from the Apple site, but here is what it said:
The interactive media group is looking for a skilled software engineer who wants to work as part of a small highly motivated team to work on interactive multimedia experiences on the iPhone and iPod Touch. The position on the team is to help design and implement interactive multimedia experiences on the iPhone and iPod Touch. The position also requires a creative thinker who can contribute and comment on the design process as well as being flexible enough to aid in all aspects of production such as asset management and able to work to a deadline.
Looking for skilled engineer with the following background.
-strong C / C++ / Objective-C / iPhone background preferred
-3-4 years of video game development experience, shipped at least one AAA title
-skills in audio systems, graphics pipeline, and network programming a plus
-ability to work in small dynamic team
Now, to date, Apple has only released four apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch: MobileMe iDisk, Keynote Remote, Remote and Texas Hold ‘Em. Nothing too terribly exciting, but with over 100,000 applications currently in the store, and predictions of 300,000 by the end of next year (PDF link) according to some estimates, you know Apple has to be sitting back and asking itself why it isn’t trying to grab a bigger piece of this pie.
So, why games first? Easy, they’re money spinners. Back in October, Douglas MacMillan of BusinessWeek was researching an article about the economy of apps when he discovered seven apps that were in the $1 million dollar sales range. Of those seven, five of them were games, making games the natural first choice for Apple to explore with its own line of apps.
Apple releasing more apps itself won’t necessarily mean the end of the road for anyone else out there, but say Apple releases a Chess app, one of the most crowded categories in the games section, what brand name is going to be the name that customers immediately gravitate to? “Jim Bob’s Little App Store Chess App”, or “Apple’s Chess app”?
The question then becomes what this will mean for all of those developers who have built this App Store into the monster it is. Apple is going to have a natural leg up on the competition thanks to its brand recognition and perceived product quality. Will this be the right move for Apple if it truly is what it is planning? Do you want to alienate the developers that have built an entire community and store for you by suddenly dropping into the game like an 800-lbs gorilla?
As with everything related to Apple, until it actually comes out and says what it’s doing, all of this is pure speculation. For all we know Steve Jobs could want a custom made game for his personal iPhone, but there certainly seems to be some evidence that Apple is ready to finally expand its own line of apps, and Heaven help any app that happens to be standing in their way when they release them.