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RealTime IT News

iPhone app mania

Anyone who concerns themselves with shiny gadgets knows that the iPhone is a phenomenon.

Whether it lives up to the hype or not, the thing has simply been the coolest phone on the block since its showy unveiling last January. Then came the madness late last June when it hit stores, a three-day drudge where professional line standers earned a month's rent waiting outside the Manhattan Apple store to shop as surrogates for wealthy patrons in the grip of a techno-lust that steamrolled any notion of financial temperance. Lunacy.

And all of a sudden, it became this crazy status symbol. Like a gleaming set of chromed-out spinners that you could wear on your hip. And talk through. And use to access the Web. And take videos. And on, and on ...

Leaving aside the minor dustup regarding Apple's decision to lop one-third of the price off a mere two months after its street date (massaged slightly by Steve Jobs' mea culpa and a promise of store credit for early adopters), it's been a resounding success.

iPhone3G_appstore.JPG

So fast-forward to the present. The 3G version (Tagline: Twice as fast. Half the price.) hits stores tomorrow, and with it comes the official iPhone App Store, where a set of pre-screened apps will be available for download, many of them for free.

The media blitz has been inescapable. The Apple faithful devour the news coverage of the company with a voracious appetite, and the folks whose applications will become available with the App Store are loath to miss out on the opportunity.

So, like remoras, they have set forth a barrage of press releases and PR folks in the hope of getting caught up in the fervor that seems to greet just about everything that Apple does these days.

And boy does it work -- this very publication has devoted two full stories today to a couple of the notable iPhone apps -- those of [MySpace](/dev-news/article.php/3758241/MySpace+Catches+iPhone+Fever.htm) and [Oracle](/mobility/article.php/3758281/Oracle+Business+Apps+Appear+on+the+iPhone.htm). Of course, the Apple phenomenon is a pretty handy one for the media folks, too -- the more a story gets read, the better our business is, no?

They say a rising tide lifts all boats. Indeed.

But on this great day, MySpace and Oracle will not be alone in basking in the resplendent glow of an iPhone that you can customize.

Presented with a smart salute to opportunistic public relations, here is a roll-call of some of the first ones that have crossed our radar:

AOL's got three of them: AIM, AOL Radio and Truveo, the video search engine. All are free, and continue what AOL describes as a renewed embrace of Apple's development platforms.

For the business-minded, Salesforce.com is bringing its CRM and Force.com applications to bear on the iPhone in what should continue the device's entry into the enterprise. Salesforce pitches the applications to sales reps who could use them to interact with clients and manage their accounts through its hosted services while on the go.

AT&T's YellowPages.com's got a free one designed to aid in the discovery of local events and businesses based on their popularity among other iPhone users.

TripAdvisor's Local Picks is a similar (also free) offering, layering local reviews on top of the iPhone's location-based capabilities to generate restaurant recommendations.

Loopt, also a natural fit for the iPhone's location technology, is offering its social-mapping feature as a free download, so you'll "you'll never be lonely, bored or hungry again!" CEO Sam Altman promises.

Chimps Ahoy.JPG

And finally, there's a wonderful looking game from a company called Griptonite Games available for download for (what seems) a modest $9.99. It's called Chimps Ahoy!, and I think I'll let the press release describe the premise:

"Thieving Ninjas have stolen all of the Chimps' bananas, so they must join up with the Pirates, working their way up through the ranks to finally confront the Ninjas and reclaim what is rightfully theirs. ... Players take control of two chimps on either side of the screen and are tasked with bouncing coconuts between the two to break gems, pick-up power-ups and knock out enemies."

Had to leave off on the Chimps Ahoy! because I think it's very funny, and, like all God-fearing red-bloods, I think the world would be a friendlier place if non-human simians had more to do with it.

But the App Store is expected to be stocked with something on the order of 500 applications, so we're only scratching the surface here. I encourage you to leave comments regarding those that we simply need to know about, or warning us against those that we're better off avoiding. Come on -- you love this stuff!

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