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Summary:

I’ll bet there are many, many developers out there right now trying to figure out just what the perfect recipe is for App Store mega success. Well, there’s probably no ready-made formula that will guarantee you bucketloads of iPhone user cash, but studying the work of […]

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I’ll bet there are many, many developers out there right now trying to figure out just what the perfect recipe is for App Store mega success. Well, there’s probably no ready-made formula that will guarantee you bucketloads of iPhone user cash, but studying the work of those who’ve already done well might reveal some basic truths about what customers are looking for. Go ahead and do so by checking out Apple’s recently released list of the top apps of all time (iTunes link).

Basic Truth #1: iPhone users like shooting things, or at least pretending to. That’s probably not very accurate, but there are two shooting-related apps among the top 20 paid apps, iShoot and iHunt. Shooting also occurs in Fieldrunners, but not in such a hands-on manner. I think the list of free apps might be more illuminating in some ways, since no doubt the 99 cent price point of many of the paid apps might have had more to do with their success than the content or function of the app itself. At least I sincerely hope that’s why iFart Mobile got a spot. 

Among the top 40 (20 paid and 20 free), I have a few personal favorites, and quite a few have me scratching my head. The best, in my opinion, are:

Bejeweled 2 — Honestly, I’m a little surprised I’m including this one too, but recent events have made me realize just how perfect the marriage of the iPhone’s touch interface and this inane, time-killing game truly is. 427,962, level 24 on Classic mode, that’s how perfect.

Shazam — Not only is it actually really handy for when you’re listening to the radio or watching a movie or TV show and can’t quite place a great song, but this is also the ultimate ambassador app. Not everyone is familiar with the iPhone’s vast app library, but almost everyone knows about “the one that guesses what song’s playing,” and almost everyone wants to see it in action.

Pocket God — It was either this or Koi Pond, but Pocket God to me represents what Koi Pond paved the way for, and also what it should aspire to become. The regular updates, or “installments,” make sure this is one app that actually retains a space on my springboard even when other, more useful apps come and go.

Remote — The father of all apps, Apple’s own Remote for use with iTunes on your laptop or desktop computer. I use this constantly, since I have my iTunes on my Mac mini and a multi-room speaker system set up using Airport Expresses. Would like it to work with Quicktime, too, but it’s still more than wonderful for a free app.

Movies — I use this all the time to buy movie tickets en route to the theater. I love it, and love not having to print anything out. Built-in trailers and Rotten Tomatoes round it out very nicely.

By and large, it looks like the goodies are generally rising to the top, though there are the few exceptions I’ve already mentioned. I think that the new capabilities open to developers in iPhone 3.0 will shake up the landscape quite a bit, so look for a much different list the same time next year.

  1. It’s something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Wthat REALLY drives an app’s sales is being featured by Apple. Having them repeatedly feature the same apps (on iTunes AppStore, 1 billion countdown, website, physical store banners, first page of iPhone AppStore) pretty much guarantees that these apps will continue to be at the top of the lists, regardless if something better comes along.

    The review sites and blogs also tend to go for the low hanging fruit as well … hey they want to be popular … and end up reviewing/promoting the top sellers as well. To be honest they don’t have infinite financial resources and time to purchase and review every app that comes along.

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  2. [...] Staff | Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | 7:58 AM PT | 0 comments Apple reveals the top iPhone apps to date (TheAppleBlog) Twitter’s an energy guzzler (and other hard truths for Web 2.0 app addicts) [...]

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  3. It’s clear that iPhone apps have little to do with the advance of any technology — the technology model of a custom phone apps, let alone custom apps to access a single Web site or service, is a holdover from 1996 — but everything to do with a marketing strategy.

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  4. Being featured by Apple can be a big help. The rich get richer.

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  5. [...] Top 20 Apps of All Time – Crash Bandicoot? Really? Jesus H. Christ [...]

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  6. My biggest cascade on Bejeweled 2 is 72. Top that!

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  7. I honestly think Midomi is much better than Shazam… and Shazam could not be found on app stores internationally.

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  8. [...] Wednesday, Apple revealed the most downloaded apps so far. In the paid section, Smule’s social musical instrument Ocarina made the list, as did Tap Tap [...]

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  9. I think you made some good points

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  10. I just got me iphone!! yey :)
    Thanks for the app’ list, looking cool ;)

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