It’s become pretty trendy, in some tech circles at least, to criticize Apple and its handling of the iTunes app store. Admittedly, Apple’s actions are sometimes confusing, contradictory, and even downright idiotic every now and again. But by and large, and especially given the massive number of apps in the app store, Apple has managed the iTunes App Store relatively smoothly, and has opened up an entirely new revenue stream for an innumerable number of developers who, if it weren’t for Apple, would probably never have their work seen by the masses. The level playing field that the app store provides has given all developers the ability to strike it rich, and much like how the iPhone wrestled away much of the control that mobile carriers had grown accustomed to enjoying, the app store has wrestled away the dominance that a handful of large game publishers exerted over the gaming industry for quite some time.
On that note, David Whatley, who is president of Critical Thought Games and behind popular iPhone gaming titles such as geoDefense and geoDefense Swarm, recently wrote a blogpost explaining that the revolutionary nature of the iTunes App Store is largely being overlooked – namely that it’s resurrected the existence, and more importantly, the relevance of the lone wolf programmer.
Alas, times change. EA game projects today have credit lists a hundred names long it seems! Big gambles, big risks, big payoffs, big disasters. It’s a whole different industry but one thing is for sure: the age of the lone-wolf developer had ended.
And, 20 years later, Apple…. Steve Jobs…. and his team…. Brought. It. Back.
… While so many focus on the small things, like the whole Google Voice rejection mishigoss, it seems everyone has lost sight of the most amazing transformation of the gaming industry in my lifetime. Not just amazing by what it has achieved, or what it will achieve going forward, but the pace at which this has occurred! The old vets of the App Store game have about 1 year of experience!
Whatley then addresses the common complaint that the iTunes App Store simply has too many titles to make a developers chance for success feasible. Whatley astutely points out that the app store isn’t a guaranteed ticket to fast cars and expensive condos, but rather a platform that gives each and every developer an equal opportunity to achieve the heights of commercial success, making it “possible for a lone wolf developer to compete in the same channel as EA, and win!”
I was confronted by the fact that many devs feel a tad helpless in the face of the blizzard of apps appearing on the store each day. They feel their app is just lost in the wind, and there isn’t much they can do about it. Fortunately many of the talks at 360IDev focused on this very subject, including mine. But even still, there seemed to be an undercurrent of “this isn’t fair!”
They are right: it isn’t fair. But more to the point, it isn’t supposed to be fair!
I will repeat the point I tried to drive home at the conference:
What Apple has done here, what Steve Jobs has done here, is he has stepped up to each and everyone of us and handed us a bat. Stepping aside, he says to us “Swing away!”
If you have the talent, the know-how, the drive, the ambition, then you should be swinging for the fences. It’s not a Lottory; it’s not luck. It’s about focus, determination and skill.