Here's an interesting what-if scenario for you: What if the course of iPhone app history was altered as the result of an app that lets you record and rate your farts, and send them to friends in a battle over whose fart is better, based on such criteria as duration, treble and bass? Wouldn't that be a gas?
Such an app actually exists. It's called "Fart Battles," and it's the brainchild of Tucker Aaron, a former investment banker who decided his true calling lay elsewhere, and that the lower intestine would be a crucial stop along the way.
Aaron is the founder and CEO of Popkiller Games, which earlier this month launched Fart Battles as its debut app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I spoke with Aaron and Popkiller Games CTO Trevor Rosen last week, and found that a conversation centered around unabashedly juvenile subject matter can be surprisingly substantive. They're not just releasing a stinker here.
Aaron and Rosen are using Fart Battles as an entry into a space that merges entertainment and gaming on mobile platforms, and as a means to test their work to advance social activity on the iPhone and iPad. Aaron said the original plan was to develop an app that's trivia-related, but opted to go the fart-related route for the sake of expediency. While Aaron declined to divulge details of the trivia app since the idea is still in the hopper, he did explain his strategy:
Built into Fart Battles we have these social and viral mechanics-the ability to battle a friend. We think that's something that nobody has quite gotten right on the iPhone yet. Obviously on Facebook, companies like Zynga have figured out that model and done a really good job with it. But aside from a couple of apps like Words with Friends on the iPhone, most of them are just individual experiences. And we think there's a huge opportunity for a more social experience on the iPhone.
I pressed Aaron for more information on what he has in the hopper, and he added:
I'll just say this: We've built a pretty incredible engine here that allows us to record sounds and send them to friends, and there are many different ways that we can apply that.
So it just might be the case that Popkiller Games will play a role in making the iPhone/iPad platform a much better social media space than it is now. I'm disinclined to pass judgment on whether such a low-brow app was the best way to introduce his company's talents, but I did ask him the question that was begging to be asked: What's his response to someone who suggests that this is an awful waste of engineering and design talent that could have been put to much better use?
My response is I'm glad that they're talking about it, because hopefully that will sell some applications and enable us to do some more things. The thing that we find really interesting is apps like this are really entertainment. This isn't really a game. You can play it like a game, you can battle your friends, but in reality what most people are getting out of it is that they love the humor of it, the buzz with their friends and all of that. If we're entertaining people, we're doing our job, and that's what's exciting to me.
I, for one, have no problem with the juvenility of it all. Fart Battles made me laugh (yes, I'm that immature), and I was tremendously impressed with the cleverness, quality and functionality of the app. These guys have the capability to do some cool stuff, and they're definitely worth keeping an eye on.