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iPhone Users, Get Ready for Flash Games

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Photo of Evan "Rabble" Henshaw-Plath by James Duncan Davidson, used with permission

The iPhone (s AAPL) has inspired a casual gaming renaissance that’s about to go into overdrive. OneAppAtATime, a new startup, allows developers to build iPhone applications using Flash, thanks to early access to Adobe’s (s ADBE) new Flash developer software beta. Starting this week, the upstart will open its doors to Flash game developers, offering to convert their games to apps and shepherd them through App Store approval in return for 35 percent of revenues. (That’s a 50-50 split after Apple takes its 30 percent.)

OneAppAtATime is the brainchild of Evan “Rabble” Henshaw-Plath who previously worked on Fire Eagle (s YHOO), the location-based service from Yahoo’s idea incubator Brickhouse, and Odeo, the podcasting startup that spawned Twitter.

Henshaw-Plath, who recently relocated to Montevideo, Uruguay, said he hopes to produce “dozens to hundreds of games per month.” He’s targeting the many people who develop Flash games as a part-time project and in the past may have had trouble monetizing their work given many users do not expect to pay for games on the web.

But on the iPhone, where people are used to paying, Henshaw-Plath expects these same games’ prices to be about $2.99. And OneAppAtATime has a bit of a jump on the competition, though Adobe says it plans to release a public beta of Flash Professional CS5 by the end of 2009. Henshaw-Plath says he’s taking advantage of the wealth of Flash developers in Uruguay to get ahead of rivals.

OneAppAtATime, despite its name, does want to be a bit of a factory, churning out as many apps as possible, but Henshaw-Plath especially wants to adapt games that can make use of iPhone features like the accelerometer, GPS, compass and address book. For instance, one of the company’s games takes the Atari classic Breakout and enables players to control their paddle by moving their whole phone back and forth. (You can’t play it yet; none of the company’s apps have yet made it through Apple’s approval process.)

Henshaw-Plath is funding the company through Cubox, his Ruby on Rails consultancy. He expects each Flash game to take a few days to convert at a cost of “a couple hundred dollars to thousand dollars’ worth of development.”

OneAppAtATime is unleashing a bit of a monster; there are more than 100,000 iPhone applications already in existence and far, far more Flash games. With that much competition, maintaining a business won’t be easy. Henshaw-Plath says his apps will stand out from other iPhone applications because users will be able to test the games in Flash in a gallery before they buy. He’s also not getting exclusive licenses to the games, but rather giving Flash developers the right to compete against OneAppAtATime if they later think they can do a better job. And the company promises to give each game a healthy dose of social media marketing as well as advertising across its other apps.

15 Responses to “iPhone Users, Get Ready for Flash Games”

  1. Hi,
    would the development team use the Adobe package to convert flash to iphone app. Is it still ok to use the package for flash games, as there is a legal obligation not to use package for iphone apps.

    “Adobe® Flash® Professional CS5 software ships with Adobe AIR® Packager for iPhone and offers the technical capability to have ActionScript 3 projects run as native applications for the iPhone 3.0 OS. As a result of Apple’s updated legal terms (section 3.3.1 of the Apple iPhone SDK License Agreement), Apple is no longer permitting these applications to be delivered to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users through the Apple App Store. This a legal restriction imposed by Apple and is not a technical limitation of Adobe AIR or Adobe Flash Professional CS5.”

  2. so his plan is to use his beta version of the flash ide ( which should be out at the end of 2009….. which is now)
    to get ahead of competitors by releasing other people’s flash games on the iphone for a small cut…..

    i think most flash developers with any sense will just wait until the new flash ide is out themselves and release their own version for a 100% cut….

    or alternatively just learn objective c and release their own native version!

  3. Flash games will open up huge new possibilities iPhone applications and games in the future. Particularly games, since most developers are already very familiar with Flash, it will help them develop more complex software without having to study their SDK books.

  4. Niklas Alvaeus

    Don’t worry about promotion. These flash apps will run like a dog in 2 fps compared to native apps in 30 fps + (I’ve seen the CS5 beta). I’l be surprised if Apple even allows this piece of crap. They shouldn’t.

    • Randy Giusto

      well, if the customer experience is lousy because of performance as you pointed out, then they will look like a fish out of water- to use another animal metaphor! Apple would not allow anything that make’s their platform look slow and inefficient. AT&T already does that for them depending on your location.

      Converted Flash apps to the Land of Misfit Toys?

  5. Randy Giusto

    hmm.. if I’m a developer with a Flash-based game app then a $3 sale in the iTunes app store means that 30% goes to Apple ($0.90) = $2.10 left and then 35% of the original $3 ($1.05) goes to OneAppAtATime, which leaves me with $1.05 if I got that right! It’s incremental income for me since my original development work was in Flash.

    I expanded on what this means for iPhone developers at

    I can see why iPhone developers would be upset. Maybe George below is one!

    And OneAppAtATime’s promise of full use of social networking to promote my app looks interesting too since we all know how hard it is to get featured in the iTunes app store!