Will Apple sell iPhone themes on iTunes? - Macenstein

Will Apple sell iPhone themes on iTunes?

With Apple previewing version 3.0 of the iPhone software next week, it’s a safe bet we’re going to be seeing at least a couple major new features, but will custom themes be one of them? Well, it should be. Here’s why.

First, the cell phone market is not quite the same as the computer market. Apple has maintained an extremely tight grip on the look and feel of OS X running on its Macs, forcing those looking to personalize the look of their desktops to seek out 3rd party apps such as Shapeshifter to change dock icons and colors and such. But the cell phone market is different. Each and every cell phone user has their own idea of what features are considered “deal breakers” when they choose a handset and carrier. I know personally of at least 5 “under twenty-somethings” who have held off on the iPhone due to its lack of MMS, and likewise, I know of at least a couple who held off on buying one until Apple lossened its ban on custom ringtones.

The point here is, people’s cell phones, as ridiculous as this may sound, are considered by many to be a way to express themselves to the world. Usually this expression comes in the form of a really obnoxious ringtone, designed to get everyone’s attention and hopefully illicit a laugh in a crowded movie theater, but it is an expression just the same. And while the way a phone sounds is probably number one on kids’ minds, coming in a close second is the way it looks.

If Apple is looking to court the cell phone buying youth that have thus far been able to resist the call (no pun intended), allowing themes is a great way to go about it.

Second, adding a “themes” section will add a great new source of income for Apple. Just as Apple takes a cut of paid App sales via iTunes, they would be able to grab a percentage of every paid theme people download.

Third, Apple may want to consider selling themes as a way to deter Jailbreakers. Assuming that rumors hold true that the iPhone v3 software will include MMS, Copy and Paste, Tethering, and Background Processes in some form or another, then Apple has likely cut the number of potential Jailbreakers in half (throw in video recording and they’ll steal another 15%).

Fourth, and finally, an Apple theme store would be a God send for consumers (such as myself). By allowing artists to create custom themes (and get paid for their work) , it will help assure that some truly well-designed and beautiful themes would make their way to the iPhone. I’m not saying there won’t be a boat load of crappy themes (just as there are a boatload of crappy apps) but in general just as the top 100 apps tends to have a decent percentage of worthwhile offerings, so too would the best themes rise to the top.

A “Developer” Halo Effect?

In order to work, Apple will have to add a theme editor as part of the iPhone’s SDK, a move I think may encourage more people who never thought of making an app (but are graphically savvy enough to make a theme) to download the SDK and take a crack at programming. It will also ensure there is a consistency to the themes as well as take away much of the trial and error guesswork that exists today.

But in the end, it will not be the technological hurdles that Apple will have to get past in order to bring themes to the iPhone, it is the idea that consumers should have the right to take Apple’s beautiful hardware, and make it as tacky as they want.

17 Responses to “Will Apple sell iPhone themes on iTunes?”
  1. Nathan says:

    One significant problem would be the fact that there ARE so many apps in the App Store – would Apple require a minimum number of icons? Would you only have to have icons for the default apps to make a theme, or would you be required to make icons for the top X apps, or… ?
    A good way to handle this would be to make icons for different categories of apps. To have a theme, Apple could require you to, say, have at least one “Fart App” icon, one “Todo List” icon, one “Beatmaker/909” icon, etc. Then, when a customer loads the theme, it’s not potluck whether an app has an icon or not. Games would present a roadblock to this, as well as apps that are unique enough not to fit in to general categories like that, but at least that would cut down quite a bit on apps that don’t/might not have icons.
    It’s also my opinion that an icon that sticks out is likely to be removed, so apps that don’t have custom icons made for them would suffer from custom themes. But maybe that’s just me that would get rid of an app because it looks bad 😛

  2. Tice says:

    Great sample theme btw.! Is this theme available somewhere?

  3. James says:

    So what’s the problem with custom ringtones? I can create them on my PC and Mac for free and sync then to my iPhone. The whole pay-for-ringtone is for those too lazy I learn how to make their own!

  4. iShervin says:

    I agree with you Doc…
    but it’s not long at all… just few days and we will find out!!

    I am hopping for COPY/CUT/PASTE – MMS – THEMES – GPS sharing – Sideways Keyboard in all apps – and finally better SMS app, forwarding, deleting one at a time and …


  5. Jonro says:

    I like that idea a lot. I would buy additional themes to feshen up the look of my iPhone every now and then. However, I don’t think it will happen (at least not from Apple) because they seem to be very big on keeping their interface consistent. I agree that the iPhone is conceptually different than a desktop computer and that they are also accessories, so I hope that Apple might give new themes a try.

    I’m hoping for Bluetooth stacks for stereo music and for Bluetooth keyboards with iPhone 3.0. I’m hoping for a lot more than that, but that would be a good start.

  6. mangochutney says:

    Although I’m excited what Apple will put into the next iPhone OS, themes is not one of them. I don’t know why, but I’m not really that interested in customising my iPhone.
    I did customise my MBP, with different icons and such, but I really think that it would be overkill on this device.

    I quite like some of the themes for the iPhone that you find on macthemes, but they have no use for me.

  7. Goobi says:

    Apple supporting themes? Are you fucking crazy? Not happening. I can bet you my facebook account it’s not happening.

  8. crsrc says:

    yeah, i agree with goobi, it just will not happen….ever. they might let you have a custom background but thats it.

    that said, the idea of having a theme section in the appstore where a designer like myself could possibly make a little extra cash is very appealing. That just overtook the folder system and and copy and paste as the thing I wish most apple would do to the iphone.

  9. Cyxodus says:

    I rather like the above theme and would love to have that on the iPhone.

  10. Kensei says:

    @Tice: yes it is available on cydia its called Buuf2

  11. Kelly says:

    Looks interesting. Can’t wait!

  12. darrell says:

    the iPhone doesn’t have a tiny ring for a cell phone strap – i really doubt they’ll let a user skin the UI in any way.

  13. rick says:

    a buuf2, that will be my theme!

  14. WKDONE says:

    I’d love to sell some of my themes and battery graphics.
    So far my football themes have been downloaded over 120,000 times, and only about 10 thank you’s…..
    But funnily enough I get at least 80 emails a day requesting other themes and graphics……got a bit too much so have stopped uploading my themes to Cydia and only sharing with friends. I now have a huge collection of themes and thinking of putting a site together…… SO WATCH THIS SPACE….

  15. Jordan says:

    I have the iphone 3gs and i would love to have custon themes i have a contract so i dont know what would happen if i jailbreaked. I think if APPLE sold backgrounds they would make massive profits. I also think to stop all this talk of having custom icons i think only the default icons should be changed eg contacts and app store etc. I dont see why APPLE are holding out on custom fields they could still restrict which themes are sold so i dont see the problem????

  16. Brandon Peat says:

    I think apple should sell themes for the iPhone very soon. I just got my
    iPhone and I love it but it will be more interesting if I could customize my phone
    without jailbreaking it.

Leave A Comment


Click here to inquire about making a fortune by advertising your game, gadget, or site on Macenstein.