iPhone breast jiggling war illustrates “Double-D” sized problem for iPhone developers
An iPhone breast jiggling battle is quietly brewing between Tod Baudais of iJiggles and Jon Atherton of Wobble, and as it escalates, it threatens to tear apart the very fabric of breast jiggling on the iPhone. I can only hope we can stop it in time.
Above: Wobble and iJiggles. Aren’t there enough breasts to go around?
Both apps launched within days of each other, with Wobble hitting the store two days before iJiggles, but both obviously being developed independently. Both apps earned media attention when it was discovered they could be used as a work around for those despondent over the 3D breast jiggling app iBoobs being denied a spot on the iTunes store.
At first it appeared that there were plenty of breasts to go around, and both apps enjoyed brisk sales. However, behind the scenes, the groundwork for a litigious war was slowly being laid. You see, according to Tod from Smells Like Donkey, the creators of iJiggles, last week Wobble decided to change the name of their app from “Wobble” to “Wobble-3D-Jiggle”, a move iJiggles interpreted as an attempt to use their app’s name to help drive sales of Wobble. When Smells Like Donkey noticed this, they decided turn about would be fair play, and changed the name of their app from “iJiggles” to “iJiggles-3D-Wobble”.
Well, apparently Jon over at Wobble didn’t get the joke, as indicated by this post by Tod on the iJiggles blog:
Yesterday when we visited the App store, we were a little surprised to see that the Wobble guys changed the name of their application from “Wobble” to “Wobble-3D-Jiggles”. This was a little surprising for a number of reasons:
1. “Wobble” is already an established name. It’s short and concise.
2. The incorporation of Jiggles really serves only one purpose – to get searches from people trying to find iJiggles.
So to be a bit of an ass right back to him, I changed the name of “iJiggles” to “iJiggles-3D-Wobble”.
Well, I woke up this morning to find this email from the Wobble guy himself:
Remove Wobble from the “name” you are using for your application.
You are infringing our trademark.
It would seem by your statement that “You have nothing to lose” that you are
attempting to benefit from our large sales and marketing effort. Might I
suggest that you do have something to lose?
As your name stands you are deliberately using our name to try to increase
sales of your own and you will be liable for damages, to minimize such damage
you must CEASE AND DESIST using the Wobble name immediately.
My IP lawyers will be writing to Apple, in addition please supply an address
for service for your company to the email address above.
Tod’s suspicious response seems understandable to me, as there are many cases of applications listing the names of their chief competitors in their application descriptions so their apps will show up on iTunes search results (sometimes they even just list other popular apps that are unrelated to bolster their search results). For Wobble to come out, lawyers blazing, claiming infringement on a guy who clearly feels he’s just re-infringing on their infringement, seems a bit of an ass move. Wobble, for their part, has since changed the name of their app back to simply “Wobble”, but Google shows the evidence of the transgression.
Above: Wobble may have since changed its name back, but Google never forgets.
Of course, there are at least two sides to every story, so I spoke to Jon over Wobble to get his take on the affair.
It started out, for us at least when we were experimenting with different names for our WOBBLE app, weâ€™ve managed to get Wobble into the top spot in a few countries and decided that working on the visibility of the icon and the name in the appstore could help. As it stands the Appstore only gives you limited ways to differentiate your product in the main App browsing screen:
1. The icon â€“ probably the most important, it needs to tell a story
2. The name, you have approximately 16 characters here depending on where it is displayed, once again story telling is difficult in this number of characters.
3. Your company name < !> Hey Apple â€“ this seems pointless to me, why not replace that with a subline of text so the publisher can explain the app briefly?
Since the company name cannot be changed after submission, we were mucking around with the name â€“ and tried Wobble-3D-Jiggle, I would have preferred Wobble Boobs, or Wobble Jugs, but after Apple censored us last week for using Boobs and Booty in our description, it was the next best idea at the time! It seemed to tell users what our App does â€“ most people get what you can Wobble and Jiggle in 3D.
I didnâ€™t actually think using the word jiggle in this context would be a problem â€“ it was nothing to do with iJiggles since it has an â€œiâ€ and their sales were pretty low, itâ€™s not like it would appear next to iJiggles in the appstore. Tod Martin thought differently and has renamed his app in an attempt to garner sales from the Wobble name in the market placeâ€¦ somewhat annoyingâ€¦
Obviously buyers have voting with their purchasing decision â€“ and Wobble had been out selling iJiggles 12 to 1â€¦ with just on 30,000 sales in the first 2 weeks and iJiggle selling about 2400 in the same period. Any bump in sales he gets now would be attributed to him using the Wobble name.
Anyway, the iJiggles guy Tod Martin has been obsessing over Wobble from day one, obviously because itâ€™s the market leader. Weâ€™d been mucking around with the idea since September last year and he apparently came up with the idea a few weeks back â€“ and it shows in the way his Application works – I found his product to be severely lacking when I tried it out myself â€“ and you can see an actual screenshot of what Jiggles does to womenâ€™s breasts here: http://chillifresh.com/2009/01/22/wobble-vs-ijiggle/ so I got kinda annoyed with him â€“ and I guess that showsâ€¦ As you know we have a demo video â€“ the Apple approved one here: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=S1xD8j6OUuU or our NSFW one here: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=FWC_R3-qC3I
( http://forums.mactalk.com.au/20/65879-interview-jon-atherton-creator-wobble-iphone-app.html – explains where the Wobble idea came from)
Itâ€™s developed into a bit of an old style flame war, with an interesting twistâ€¦ Everything I send to him he publishes on his blog, he even talks about Wobble in the first few lines of his Application description! Consequently the top 60% of his blog is a story about him obsessing about a WOBBLE â€“ a competitorâ€™s product, and not talking about his own. Iâ€™m beginning to wonder if I should include him in my Press Release distribution!
Hmmm… well, while I don’t know that I entirely buy the name change argument (although I admit I can’t think of that many other synonyms for “wobble”), Jon does make a very valid point that Wobble did not have that much to fear from iJiggles, sales-wise (although that never stopped Starbucks from trying to crush THEIR competition), and Tod’s publishing of all his e-mails on his public blog is a bit unprofessional, to say the least.
As strange as this argument between two virtual breast jiggling JUG-ernauts (pun intended) is, it got just a bit weirder this morning when I check the iJiggles blog again and noticed Jon from Wobble had written Tod again, this time angry that the dirty laundry has been aired:
Wow. This is really turning into Comedy Gold! Shortly after publishing his last email I got this gem from him:
“Heh, I don’t believe that you just published a comment from me that:
a. Points out the shortcomings of your application
b. Points out to anybody reading that there exists an opportunity to take
your application name! I simply meant that as a warning to you against the
problem with changing your software name… hence the reason I changed ours
back! (oh and sales went down when I mentioned Jiggle)!
But I guess you are just a bit too slow to pick that up, and you insist on
republishing my PM’s to your imaginary readers???
Let’s see if you are foolish enough to publish this too:
Dear search engine and readers of this blog, please index this link:
Wobble is the best boob jiggling software available for the iPhone – follow
this link to buy WOBBLE
Or maybe you’ll realise that you are giving me the opportunity to publish
stuff on YOUR blog and take all of it down!! “
That last bit has me more or less convinced that Jon from Wobble is probably just as immature as Tod, which given the nature of the apps they are fighting over, should surprise no one.
Not just about breasts
Battles between competing developers is not solely relegated to breast jiggling. Similar battles have popped up across all genres, from games to farting apps, and some of the tactics are downright dirty. The most infamous battle at the moment has to do with the “speeding ticket avoiding apps”, with NMobile claiming Trapster is maliciously leaving detrimental comments on their app to lower its rating and hurt business (there’s an interesting read on the subject here). Bashing competitors in an app’s comments is quite common on the app store, and unfortunately it appears Apple for the most part tries to stay out of these arguments, sending form e-mails back saying they cannot change a comment left by a customer, which basically forces developers to stoop to similar tactics to attempt level the playing field. With most developers too small to really mount any type of legal defense (or offense, for that matter) many times empty legal threats and app bashing are the only tools left to developers to help promote their apps on the app store.
What’s the answer?
So, how can Apple keep the iTunes store honest? I actually have no idea. All it takes is for one app to have a 1-star review, while another has two 5-star reviews to steer people away from a possibly superior game or application. A small investment of telling 4 of your friends to buy a competing product and bash it on iTunes can pay off big for shady developers, and at the moment Apple seems to have no way of battling the problem. This reminds me of those lame TV shows and movies where some goody-two shoes inevitably says “If we do that, then we’ll be no better than they are!” Well, guess what? When it comes to apps, if you don’t stoop to their level, then you’ll also be no RICHER than they are either, and for developers who spend hundreds of hours developing apps in the hopes of making money (or at least not losing any), desperate times call for desperate measures.