As the creators of a best-selling iPhone game called Doodle Jump, the Pusenjaks were well aware of the financial opportunity that the iPad represented. So over the weekend they joined perhaps thousands of other software developers in an unusual scramble that drew people from as far away as Australia.
While many developers have spent weeks working on applications for Apple’s newest toy, only a handful were given iPads on which to test their software. The rest had to wait until the device went on sale Saturday for the moment of truth: How well does our app work on the iPad? Does it look and feel right? Or do we have a lot more work to do?
For small developers, the stakes are high. Having an app accepted for a highly coveted Apple product means reaching a passionate group of consumers who have demonstrated their willingness to spend over and over again on applications for mobile devices like the iPhone and iPod Touch. The potential revenue is huge; the apps market for those two devices alone is already worth a billion dollars a year in sales.
Adding to the urgency was the knowledge that many of the earliest apps for the iPhone ended up being among the most successful. A slow start with an iPad app could mean getting lost in the clutter of Apple’s crowded online store.
“A lot of developers may have suffered the pain of trying to rise to the top of the 150,000 apps that are already out there,” said Charles S. Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research. “They don’t want to repeat that experience.”
Doodle Jump for the iPhone, which involves catapulting a four-legged creature up a series of platforms, is near the top of that pile, having sold more than 3.5 million copies at 99 cents apiece in a little over a year (Apple pays developers 70 percent of the revenue from app sales). The challenge for the Pusenjaks will be to recreate that success on a new device that, if it sells well, could significantly expand the market for apps.
Apple provided simulation software to developers that allowed them to mimic the look and functions of an iPad on a Mac, and it began inviting them to submit iPad applications to its App Store last month. But the Pusenjaks and many other developers were apprehensive about submitting programs without first testing them on a real iPad.
The brothers were among many developers eager to get their hands on the new device.
Alexandra Peters, community manager at a developer company called Firemint, flew to New York from Australia to pick up several devices, which at the moment are on sale only in the United States. She planned to hand-deliver them early this week to the company’s headquarters in Richmond, a suburb of Melbourne.
Although Firemint’s flagship titles, Flight Control and Real Racing, are already available for download on the iPad, Ms. Peters said the company would use the devices for additional testing and future development.
Ms. Peters said her colleagues at home were hoping her return flight would be on time. “They can’t wait to see it,” she said with a laugh.
As for Doodle Jump, it needed extra attention because of its heavy use of the iPad’s touch screen and motion detector.
“We wanted to wait until we had it in hand so we could see the game mechanics in action and make sure they worked perfectly,” Igor Pusenjak said.
The brothers’ original plan for Saturday was for Igor to wait for the delivery of two iPads in the afternoon and then consult via video chat with his brother, who would be at his home in Croatia, where both brothers grew up.
But they changed their strategy after seeing that the competition for iPad applications would be stiffer than they had thought.
“Once we saw how many apps were already available for the iPad, we realized we needed to jump on it right away,” said Igor, who is 34 and also teaches at Parsons The New School for Design.
Marko, 33, got on a plane and arrived in New York late on Friday night. The brothers spent some time working on designs for the new version of Doodle Jump, then got some sleep before lining up at the Apple store in the meatpacking district at 8 a.m.
Two hours later, iPad in hand, the lanky pair hurried up two flights of stairs to the airy apartment Igor shares with his wife. “This is the big moment,” Igor said as Marko unwrapped the iPad and connected it to a laptop.