Tom Whipple

WWDC Day 3: Geek Details & iPhone Orchestra

Today brought a lot of technical details which were important but very boring to the casual audience. I spent a good chunk of time in the iPhone lab, talking to Apple engineers and others while fixing bugs in our app. Plus, one of the sessions gave me a bunch of ideas to improve the performance and look of the app. Hopefully we can start getting them approved very soon! The highlight of the day from a theatrical perspective was the lunchtime talk given by Dr. Ge Wang, CTO of Smule. The apps produced by Smule are audio related, from the sonic lighter (a flame that you can blow out by blowing on the iPhone microphone) to various instruments that are played by pressing various “holes” or sliders on the iPhone screen and blowing into the microphone. There are a lot of other neat features, like being able to hear & see music played by others across the world, but I won’t go into all the details. The interesting part of this story is that in less than a year, one of their apps was downloaded over one million times. At $0.99 each, less 30% to Apple, that works out to be $700,000 from a single app. Not too bad for a company that didn’t exist a year ago. So, it seems clear that if you can produce a compelling app, there is money to be made. The question is then what makes a compelling app. Clearly a flame that “burns” on the screen has no useful value, yet many people paid for it. Of course most in the audience were no doubt thinking along the same line. Nonetheless, we were treated to a performance by the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra (or MoPho). It was … interesting. I took some photos, but they are unbelievably bad. Perhaps if I had an iPhone 3GS they would have turned out.