The iTunes App Store has been the source of a number of success stories, whether it be a farting app raking it in by the thousands, or a lone developer making over $250K in just a few weeks. But one of the more impressive, though less heralded, app store success stories has been that of Pangea Software, the development house behind popular iPhone games like Cro Mag Rally and the physics based 3D puzzle game Enigmo.
At the SXSW conference last weekend, Pangea founder Brian Greenstone explained that his company’s iPhone apps have been selling so well that they will no longer develop applications for the Mac, and will instead focus their efforts solely on iPhone and iPod Touch development – a pretty powerful statement coming from a company that’s been developing Apple software for over 2 decades.
“There’s basically no point in going back to the Mac“, said Greenstone, “the iPhone is a more entertaining platform to develop for, and it makes 50 times as much money as the Mac.”
Enigmo in particular has proven to be quite the cash cow for Pangea, and in just 8 months, it has generated over $1.5 million in revenue with over 800,000 paid downloads. That averages out to over $185,000 a month, and that’s after Apple takes its 30% cut. And if that makes you jealous, you might want to skip ahead to the next paragraph, because according to Greenstone, the development cost of Enigmo for the iPhone came to exactly ZERO dollars. In a recent interview, Greenstone said that the original desktop version of Enigmo, which debuted 5 years ago, took only 6 weeks to develop. Porting it over to the iPhone took only 2 weeks and essentially involved zero developmental costs. Greenstone just tweaked a bit of code himself, and had an artist re-do some of the artwork.
Now before you go ahead and download the latest SDK with dreams of making millions , it’s important to point out that Pangea has received a lot of assistance from Apple on its road to riches. At the 2008 WWDC, for example, Pangea was able to showcase both Enigmo and Cro-Mag Rally during the Steve Jobs keynote, something which undoubtedly helped both apps attract a lot of buzz and attention. Also, it didn’t hurt that Pangea already had a library of working Mac software, which meant that it was positioned to deliver high quality and polished applications a lot quicker than other developers who were just starting from scratch. That enabled Pangea to sell iPhone apps on the app store from the get go, and Enigmo in particular quickly took a seemingly permanent place on the iTunes top 100 list. In addition, Apple showed Pangea even more love by frequently featuring the two apps on the iTunes App Store homepage, and by also pre-loading the 2 games onto iPhone’s and iPod Touch’s in its retail across the country in an effort to highlight some of the available applications for the then nascent app store. That kind of assistance might seem unfair if you’re a developer struggling to get noticed, but Apple undoubtedly wanted to showcase Pangea’s apps precisely because they were polished, addictive, and all-around fun games to play.
All in all, Pangea has netted over $2 Million in income from app store sales, and while its million dollar story might be the exception to the rule, it’s that kind of success that gives iPhone developers the incentive to keep working hard in an effort to churn out exciting software.
2 years ago it would have sounded insane for a software developer to abandon desktop development and focus solely on mobile software. The iPhone has made that once crazed notion a reality, and a profitable one at that.