Tuesday, June 30, 2009

iPhone Apps for the Miley Cyrus Set

Many of Apple’s advertisements for the iPhone application tout services for business people, college students or harried urbanites looking to save time. But a look at the applications people are actually buying reveals a different demographic.

For the past two weeks—it was dethroned this weekend—the #1 application has been a game called Sally’s Spa, whose main customer seems to be the type that would get carded trying to sneak into a PG-13 Miley Cyrus movie. Place cucumbers over someone’s eyes for a faux facial! Tap your fingers across the screen for the perfect manicure! Paint toenails (“piggies”) and then open a second location in Banff!

The goal of the game is to keep customers circulating through an imaginary spa, dropping money on various treatments until they run out of cash. If the service isn’t fast or skilled enough—watch out how long a client is in the sauna!—the spa cannot upgrade for more treatments or new exotic locations.

A review from Gamezebo sums up the application’s nuance: “[It] features a lot of nice graphical details…whether it’s the way the cute old couple (who have to be moved to each station as a pair) share a kiss after paying, or watching a customer’s face recoil in horror if you pluck their eyebrows wrong, or the way they sink into the bath with delight if you give them the right bath bomb.”

At 99 cents, down from an original price of $4.99, the game has “done millions in sales” said Steve Shatford, president of GamesCafe, which designed the program. Apple prohibits him from revealing the total number of games sold, but he said that for every day an application is in the top ten it can have tens of thousands of downloads.

And the audience isn’t necessarily exclusively the Bat Mitzvah set. “We’ve had requests from people saying, ‘I can’t stop my husband from playing my game,’” Shatford said.

User reviews seem to back him up.

“I’m a guy and I’m not gay but this is soooooo addicting[sic] I recemend[sic] this app fir[sic] guys that are bored and not gay,” wrote user delaromen.

“I work so hard to keep all my customers happy and love it when they say ‘aaahhh,’” wrote Pjbee.

As of this weekend, though, the boys—at least those who won’t admit to enjoying a simple hot stone massage—were fighting back. Hero of Sparta, a Zelda-like fantasy game, cut its price to less than one dollar, relegating Sally and her seaweed masks to #2.

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