Mobile Phone Apps Finally Take Off, Thanks to Apple

iPhone apps are taking off. And the companies who program them are benefiting off consumers’ thirst for upgrades. Businessweek wrote about Illusion Labs, which invented the iPhone app version of the game Labyrinth:

The first game Illusion Labs developed has become one of the most popular pieces of software for the iPhone. The game is called Labyrinth, a digital update to the old wooden box on which you maneuver a small silver ball through a maze while avoiding cut-out holes the ball could plunge into. The game, which is available for free from Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes, is being downloaded 80,000 times a day.

While the game is free, its success could mean rich rewards for Illusion Labs. The company is selling a souped-up version of the game, which is also quite popular, for $6.99 on iTunes. More promising, advertising agencies have contacted the company to develop variations on the game with the logos of advertisers embedded in them.

“Marketers were hesitant (about apps) initially. They did not understand what applications would be popular or what the market would be,” says Grigsby. “[But now] there are a lot of opportunities. [Advertisers] and agencies see this as a chance to develop original branded content.” VML, an interactive marketing company that has worked with Burger King, Colgate, and Intuit’s TurboTax in the past, is now working on four different free, branded applications.

Labyrinth was initially designed for hacked iPhones, the article says. However, Apple chose to open up the iPhone’s development platform, allowing games like Labyrinth on board and leading a trend in mobile phone applications. Mobile phone carriers like Verizon, Cingular and T-Mobile now can’t wait to jump on bard.

Mobile apps, such as games, have been around in some shape or form for quite a while. Yet it took the iPhone, with its open development platform, to take them viral. It’s yet another testament to Apple’s immense cultural influence.

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