Fortune Small Business Tech Edge

The iPhone music maker

A Silicon Valley startup launches a major mobile hit.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

smule_ocarina.03.jpg

(Fortune Small Business) -- A year ago, Ge Wang didn't own an iPhone and had no plans to start a company. Today Wang, an associate music professor at Stanford, is co-founder of Smule, a startup that sells musical applications for the iPhone.

Smule's hottest program, Ocarina, is billed as the first musical instrument for the iPhone. For 99 cents, users can make flutelike music by blowing into the microphone and fingering on-screen "holes." This past November, Ocarina was the best-selling iPhone app in the U.S. and 10 other countries. Wang says the product made "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in its first month, even after the 30% cut that Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) takes on all iPhone software sold through its store.

Wang founded Smule last June with Jeff Smith, a veteran of two successful Silicon Valley startups. Smule's seven full-time employees and seven part-timers have developed four iPhone applications so far.

"You don't need to be a big development company," Wang says. "It doesn't take a lot of time to try ideas on this thing." Ocarina was built in just two weeks.

Selling via the iPhone store "can make you some serious money in a short space of time," agrees Iain Gillot, president of iGR Inc., a wireless-technology research company. "But there's a danger of becoming a one-hit wonder and not being able to sustain a company."

Wang is working on more apps, convinced that the market will grow in tough economic times. "In a downturn," he says, "people will stay home and buy $1 apps for their iPhones."  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.




QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.

More Galleries
Some Converse copycats cost big bucks A few bargain brands got swept up in Chuck Taylor's net, but others cost a pretty penny. More
Urban infrastructure gets a second life Railroad beds become parks, power plants become aquariums and slaughterhouses are now art centers as an industrial past turns people-centric. More
Boomtown moms From working mothers raising their kids in RVs to stay-at-home moms who spend their days organizing events for the Oil Wives club, meet the moms of North Dakota's oil boom. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.