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.

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Kikizo: Do you ever reject any on the grounds of quality?

Joswiak: We have, actually, but what that rejection usually means is contact with the developer to say: "Hey, we're running into these problems; you should fix them and resubmit." 99 per cent of the interaction is about iteration, with them being glad we found something, fixing it and sending it back. At the same time, we want them to still be responsible for their quality. But if we run into problems while we're reviewing a game, we will tell them. It's worked out reasonably well - we're getting a lot smarter as we continue in this business, and they're getting a lot smarter.

Kikizo: Do you have any rules about allowing developers to port their titles to other platforms?

Joswiak: You mean trying to disallow that? No, it's an open marketplace. We think we offer them a better proposition. It's interesting if you look at titles like these on the DS - the screen is smaller and darker.

Kikizo: How many iPhones and iPod Touches have been sold?

Joswiak: We haven't broken the iPod line-up into its variants, but we've sold 175 million iPods, which is a lot of iPods. Obviously Touch is a portion of that, which we haven't disclosed. We have disclosed the iPhone number -- I think the last one we gave was 13 million. Last fiscal year we sold 55 million iPods, and Touch is now a growing share of the iPod market. And I think it's going to increase in sales.

Kikizo: How far can it go? How complicated can the games get?

Joswiak: Right now, we haven't heard of much of a limit. There have been two factors: developers' time to market, because remember we've only been out since July 11 when we opened the App Store up and opened the programme beyond beta - remember we had 2,500 people in the beta phase. So in less than four months, we have an amazing number of applications. And then, of course, there's developers' imaginations. Right now, I don't think we've hit the end of that.

Kikizo: Can you tell me what 3D graphics chip it has - nVidia or ATI?

Joswiak: Part of what we've done, purposely, with the iPods and iPhones, is to tend not to geekify them. We try to make them appeal to a mainstream audience. And as such, we haven't really marketed the processor, how many MHz and so on, because we don't want customers to think that they have to know that. We want them just to see what it does; how it does it is 'magic'. When you look at them, by the way, the size compared with competitors - it is a 'magical' object.

Kikizo: What happens next for this venture?

This is just the start - we're only a few months into this. Hopefully what you're seeing is that the 3.5-inch display is a blank canvas which allows developers to paint whatever they want - whatever controls, whatever imagery - and in a lot of cases are doing things they couldn't dream of doing anywhere else. My mind boggles with where we're going to be six months or a year from now.

Kikizo: Thanks for your time Greg.

Interview by Steve Boxer, Intro by Adam Doree.

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