Forget Mario. While Nintendo has built a gaming empire on the back of a hyperactive Italian plumber, Apple's iPhone is quickly becoming a formidable gaming gizmo, thanks to eclectic fare such as "Tap Tap Revenge."
The free application has become one of the stars of the App Store, which allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to download and install software created by independent developers onto the gadgets. The point of the game is to tap the iPhone's touch-sensitive screen, or shake it up and down or side to side, as balls and arrows whiz down the screen toward a player. More than 1 million users have downloaded the application since the App Store launched last month.
The game is one of a pair of applications for the iPhone from Tapulous, an eight-person Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up. The company's chief executive and founder, Bart Decreem, founded social-browser start-up Flock and worked at the Mozilla Foundation, the group behind the Firefox Web browser.
But Decreem didn't create "Tap Tap Revenge." He acquired the game from developer Nate True. The application, originally called "Tap Tap Revolution," could be snuck onto hacked iPhones.
Decrem has another hit with "Twinkle," which lets users exchange brief messages with others in their vicinity, in addition to allowing users to post and read messages on their Twitter accounts.
While the iPhone represents just a small fraction of the worldwide mobile phone market now, Decrem figures roughly 7 million iPhone and iPod Touch users can download his application now. He estimates there will be 25 million potential users by the end of this year, and 90 million by the end of 2009. "Mobile living up to its potential is the next big thing, and the iPhone is really delivering on that promise," Decrem says.
Long term, Decrem wants to build a network of applications where users can challenge each other to a game of "Tap Tap Revenge" via "Twinkle." While both applications are now free, Decrem figures "Tap Tap Revenge's" growing fan base will allow him to sell a premium edition of the game, as well as location-based advertising and even virtual goods, such as music and wallpaper for the game.
Decrem plans to roll out more applications shortly, in addition to a number of new features for :"Tap Tap Revenge." For now, the company is bankrolled to the tune of $2 million by a host of angel investors, including Sun Co-Founder Andy Bechtolsheim, Salesforce.com (nyse: CRM - news - people ) founder Marc Benioff and others.
Source : Forbes