The Bang! Bang! and Bang! Bang! Original Gangsta software produced by Damabia, in association with RnSK Softronics, can be downloaded for $1.99 (£1.35) from Apple’s online App Store.
It then makes the iPhone emit a loud gunshot sound when the owner points and shakes it, although – don’t panic - the press release from Danabia confirms you can save money on ammunition as the software uses 'no actual bullets'. That’s alright then. What’s more, chief executive Jean-Paul Florencio is described in the release as being ecstatic about the fun you can have shooting all your friends 'without actually hurting them'. Phew. Last but not least, the application also allows users to experience 'the sweet release you can only get from firing a firearm so smooth and well-crafted it feels like an extension of your own hand'.
No surprises that campaigning groups were out in force today (Monday) condemning both the application and Apple for making it available. A spokesperson from Operation Trident, which aims to tackle gun crime in London, was quoted as saying: 'This is hugely irresponsible in a climate where we are trying to get guns off the streets. We have spent years trying to get imitation guns out of shops and this just undermines that effort.'
Hard to disagree. Both Apple and the apps developer face an even rockier ride given that the criticism comes straight after the fatal shooting spree at a North Carolina nursing home, in which eight people died. It would be unnerving, to say the least, if you happened to be in Sainsbury’s or the local pub when someone was playing Bang! Bang! Original Gangsta. The sound effects, sourced from Oscar-Winning Sound Designers claim to be extremely realistic.
Nevertheless, there are clearly big bucks to be made from the App Store – and anyone can jump on the bandwagon. Last December, US author and entrepreneur Joel Comm was cashing in on his lowbrow if rather less controversial app, the iFart Mobile, an iPhone version of that old favourite the whoopee cushion. He earned £18,000 on Christmas Day alone, proving that it’s hard to underestimate public taste, even when it’s the taste of the urban sophisticates who are the iPhone’s supposed target market.
Or take Ethan Nicholas, creator of a battlefield app called iShoot, who has earned £500,000 since January, or Matthew Campbell’s series of wine and beer apps which earn him £2,700 a month. In total, 500 million apps have been downloaded from Apple’s store since July 2008.
Bang! Bang! is only the latest phase in a virtual iPhone arms race, following as it does in the footsteps of last year’s Slasher!, from a different developer. Apple was forced to withdraw Slasher!, which turned iPhones into virtual knives with which users could pretend to stab their ‘friends’, accompanied by theme from Psycho. And we thought iPhones were supposed to be cute…