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Apple Sr. Product Manager Talks About iPhone Gaming and App Store

PocketGamer.biz has posted an interesting interview with Eric Jue, Apple’s senior product manager for iPhone worldwide product marketing. The interview touches upon Apple’s intentions with gaming and the possibility of an Xbox-live style games community.

iPhone GamingThe interview takes place in London, and among some of the most interesting responses given by Jue are in direct comparison to the way Microsoft (among others) is handling their business model. When asked whether Apple was planning Xbox Live, Jue responded.

“I don’t think we look at it in quite the same way [as Microsoft],” says Jue. “Xbox is a system that they’re creating certain capabilities with, but we have a very open platform, with technologies built into it that are free to developers through the SDK and the APIs.

“So if somebody wanted to develop that then they certainly could, but… we’re not championing that type of experience per se. It’s open to the developer community and wherever they want to take the platform.”

“You could take that the next step further and combine it with Facebook or MySpace and a gaming experience, but I haven’t seen anyone pull those things together yet. There’s been a lot of talk about it though.”

Additionally, PocketGamer explains that Jue “seems enthusiastic” about connected gaming on the iPhone, and the potential that this brings. “…whether local – he says his team has “killed hours in the office” with wi-fi multiplayer on ngmoco’s upcoming WordFu – or online.” Delving into the social aspect of connected games, he sees significant potential here as well. “There’s a whole lot of activity around the social networking side, including location-based social networking applications like Loopt and Whrrl,” he says.

App Store

When asked what Apple is doing in regards to making the App Store a better experience for everyone involved, developers and end users alike, Jue explains that everyone (including Apple), is learning together as the app store grow. “We’re hearing the same thing,” says Jue. “We’re all learning as we march down this road together, but you’re right: with 15,000 apps out there, it is a little bit harder to find applications.”

Jue explains that Apple is employing two particular ways in reducing the burden of developers and making it easier to “cut through the noise” of seemingly third-rate applications. “He cites two ways Apple is trying to combat the problem. There’s the editorial content within the App Store itself – the featured applications – which he says are being changed daily to ensure users always see fresh apps when they return to the store,” Stuart Dredge explains for PocketGamer. “Then there’s the iPhone Your Life section of the Apple website, which Jue says is an example of the company ‘being much more pro-active about highlighting certain applications’.”

Jue explains, “There’s a lot of websites like yourselves doing reviews and top ten lists and trying to get a bit more visibility for some of the better apps.” – “It’s all starting to happen, but we’re looking at more ways too. It’s going to be an evolving story.”

When asked whether Apple would utilize the same technology that drives its iTunes Recommendation Genius feature, only for apps in the app store, Jue replied, “Certainly it’s possible, yeah,” – “I can’t comment on anything that we may or may not be doing in the future, but it’s a good idea. We already do it for music, so it’s certainly possible to do.”

Pricing iPhone Games and Location

Jue continues to show how confident he is with Apple’s success and the business model they’ve deployed around the iPhone’s app store. Being a game changer is an understatement for the app store, especially given that nearly all of Apple’s main competition is now directly copying the idea.

When asked about the rumored $19.99+ premium game category in the app store, Jue responds, “Are we creating a new category? People can charge those prices now – they can charge whatever they want to charge. We haven’t publicly talked about any new format to the store or creating a new category though.” – “We’re much more open – we didn’t really have a pre-defined idea for how iPhone would play in the games space,” he says, stressing that the platform is powerful for a lot of things besides gaming.

“Medicine is coming on board, business too. Lots of other people are exploring the power and utilisation of technologies in the iPhone. So where it goes with developers and the gaming world is fine by us, but we’re not trying to steer it down one particular path.”

Rounding out the interview, Jue touches upon his excitement for the iPhone’s potential with GPS functions. “Gaming is going to be one of the areas that takes advantage of location,” he says. –
“You can do virtual scavenger hunt type experiences, and you’ve got the camera and networking in there besides GPS. You could do a Dungeons & Dragons type thing on the city streets… There are so many cool things. It’s just a matter of time before these games get developed.”

“Better graphics, better levels and worlds, better interaction, better sound… Everything is marching down the path where we’re getting more innovative stuff, more creative stuff and more sophisticated stuff. And then we have multiplayer coming in, so we have a lot going on.”

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