Interview: Apple VP on iPhone Gaming
Kikizo talks to Greg Joswiak, VP of iPod and iPhone product marketing at Apple, about the App Store phenomenon and the potential of the iPhone to dominate handheld gaming.
Earlier this month, Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices boss Robbie Bach was recently asked about the iPhone's 'app ecosystem'. He said: "It's one of those ironies. We have a great app ecosystem. There's something like 20,000 apps on Windows Mobile. So it's not for lack of applications. The thing that Apple did - which we did on Xbox, so it's not some big, new thing - is they created a specific marketplace for people to buy apps in."
And buy apps they did. 200 million downloads, at last count. One of the staff of Kikizo recently got a new iPhone 3G, and armed with an unlimited supply of gaming-related expenses, started buying games. A Wi-Fi connection needs to be present for hefty downloads like music and games straight to the device, but the no-fuss billing is swift, convenient, and completely separate to the service provider's charges. In about half an hour, we'd downloaded £40's worth of games -the price of a new Xbox 360 retail game - and had ten games to show for it, six of which were high-end 3D games from developers like Sega, EA and Vivendi.
The point is how easy it was. In no time at all, we were playing full-scale edition of Super Monkey Ball, burning around the track in racing games (of varying quality) like Ferrari GT, Crash Kart and Raging Thunder, shooting fools in Brothers in Arms, and quickly understanding the benefits of multi-touch functionality in Real Football 09.
Isn't that nice? It is rather nice, actually. But it has the potential to be a lot more than just nice - perhaps even threatening the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. With announcements like Metal Gear Solid and Spore coming soon to iPhone and iPod Touch, the games industry is getting serious about Apple. But, to echo the sentiments of Valve boss Gabe Newell: is Apple getting serious about games?
Newell said of Apple: "I just don't think they've ever taken gaming seriously... they can't even follow trough on any of their commitments for game developers."
That was back in September 2007 though. So what's changed? We met with Greg Joswiak, VP of iPod and iPhone product marketing at Apple, to see where it's all going.
Kikizo: Could you give you an update of where you're at with the iPod in general?
Joswiak: The iPod update came off a quarter in September - that was our best ever quarter for iPods. The products we introduced in early September were a part of that: the iPod Nanos which went back to the portrait orientation that customers had an affinity to, with bigger, bolder colours. Then adding new features like the accelerometer: all that helped get this product off to a really good start.
But I think the product that has surprised people the most is the iPod Touch. The second-generation Touch brought the price-point down to £169, and introduced change to the design: it's super-thin, and adds volume controls and the ability to do microphone input through the 3.5mm, and putting a speaker inside. A number of nice enhancements that make it even more applicable to the gaming market.