iPhone Users, Get Ready for Flash Games

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

The iPhone 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 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, 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.

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