Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, July 15, 2021


Yup, my iTouch is tricked-out with the 2.0 Software Update. So I’ve got the new doo-dads to suck up the battery power.

That said, the first App Store game I bought is decidedly low-impact, in the sense that it makes no use of the device’s accelerometer. Sumo! is a retro-ish strategy game employing number-tiles and belly-slamming:

Defeat the opposing sumo wrestler (”Rikishi”) by knocking him off the bridge (”dohyo”, fighting space). You can also win by being furthest advanced on the dohyo when the last tile is drawn. There’s a deck of numbered tiles, like playing cards. Each player has five tiles in their hand. Players alternate playing tiles to move or attack until a Rikishi is knocked off the dohyo or the draw pile is exhausted. You can attack with multiple tiles to increase the intensity of the attack.

I took advantage of the online Shockwave version to testdrive the game before ponying up $2.99. It was fun, especially because the tile-counting is fairly deemphasized — you can pretty much bull your sumo fighter forward and get results.

Unfortunately, the iPhoned/iPodded port falls short of the original Web iteration. The new animation and art are great, even though I’d have been happy with the oldstyle comic-booky look. But the gameplay is clunky and a bit buggy. It’s possible to get stuck at the end of the dohyo, without the properly-numbered tile to go either forward or backward, necessitating a game restart. Even worse, match results don’t re-center, meaning your sumo gets shoved off the edge of the screen, leaving you to play blind.

I’m hoping that publisher Stinkbot will release an update that fixes this, and adds some nice toggle on/toggle off background music as well.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/15/2008 11:42:16 PM
Category: Videogames, iPod
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According to Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse, the famed “long tail” theory of popular economic consumption doesn’t quite hold up against the real-world numbers:

It’s true that we’re now buying more obscure movies and music than ever before. But we’re merely nibbling on these niches, Elberse reports, while we continue to gorge on a small selection of hits. In 2007, 24 percent of the nearly 4 million digital songs available for sale through stores like iTunes sold only one copy each, and 91 percent of available tracks sold fewer than 100 copies each. The story is the same for the movie business, where, between 2000 and 2005, the number of titles that were purchased only a few times “almost quadrupled.” The Internet offers us a buffet of everything — and yet we’re mainly settling for the likes of The Love Guru and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.

For his part, long tail originator Chris Anderson finds some merit in this challenge, although he obviously disputes the final conclusions.

I always interpreted the long tail model in terms of the potential it highlighted. The logistics of ecommerce — particularly Web cataloguing — means that there’s fewer impediments to accessing obscure items. In other words, shelf space is no longer a requirement for moving product, because anyone determined to buy that niche paperback last published in 1978 could find it (or, thanks to tagging, related stuff) pretty easily. The burden of maintaining physical-location inventory is gone.

But that doesn’t mean there’ll be a landrush to all that non-popular miscellany. To me, the fact that digital archives of music, books, etc. can reside out there somewhere, not costing itself money to just exist, is the main thing. If literally only one person a year took advantage of that trove, that was enough — again, the economics aren’t stressed by having that stuff in existence and (fairly) easy to get to.

In that sense, it doesn’t change the traditional hits-rule dynamic. Of course the mass-market stuff will get the most heat, because of lowest-common-denominator appeal. The leftovers are there, and that’s all that counts — not how many trips to the fridge they attract.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/15/2008 11:11:47 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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app'd up
Despite having to suffer through “iPocalypse” this weekend, Apple managed to birth the App Store, thus offering up bunches of third-party software for iPhone and iPod Touch users.

So why is it still maintaining Web Apps?

In my mind, Web Apps was a stopgap measure for adding functionality to Apple’s two touchpad/wi-fi devices, until the monetized App Store was ready to roll. I can’t believe it was intended to last, and in fact, there are too many advantages in using installable App Store wares for both consumer and developer to see an officially-sanctioned online repository stick around.

I’m surprised Apple didn’t integrate Web Apps into the App Store in some way. I realized the offerings aren’t identical, and that a bunch of the Web App developers did, in fact, port their offerings over to App Store. But why maintain two separate extensible areas intended for largely the same purpose?

My guess is that Apple will deemphasize the Web Apps area while trumpeting App Store long and loud, with the idea that Web Apps will quietly die out from lack of activity/interest. No tears shed over here, as the always-online requirement means the Web Apps stuff isn’t optimal for iTouch portability.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/15/2008 10:17:30 PM
Category: Internet, iPod
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