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The man who created the iBeer app in the early days of the iPhone was earning up to $20,000 (£15,000) a day for his simple creation. Check out the below video showing the app in action to refresh your memory.
Cast your mind back to the first days of smartphones – it seems so long ago now, doesn’t it?
Back in those days our minds were blown by these tiny pieces of technology that could provide us with seemingly infinite wisdom and hours of fun at the swipe of a finger.
One of the early apps that showed off a feature of the iPhone that set it apart from everything else was iBeer.
It was created by a struggling magician called Steve Sheraton, and it consisted of a video that showed a beer being drunk as the user raised the phone up as they would a glass.
The beauty of his creation is in the simplicity.
At first it was just a video you had to time your drinking motion with, but for the launch of the App Store in 2008, Apple approached Sheraton to see if he could develop a version that would show off the phone’s accelerometer.
That meant that if you shook the phone, the ‘liquid’ would move. If you tipped your head back, it would disappear of the screen and – seemingly – down your gullet.
It became the best-selling app on the App Store and started earning some serious money for Sheraton.
Priced at $2.99, the app sold in millions.
He told MEL magazine: “We shot to first place [in the App Store] on the very first day and stayed there for about a year.
“Apart from its visual humour and sort of appealing to the lowest common denominator, iBeer was a large success because it allowed people to show their friends what the phone was capable of.
“You could show them maps and all these kinda geeky things, but iBeer was easier to understand and a funny, fun way to show off the iPhone’s accelerometer and its bright screen with super lifelike colours.
“The amount of money that was coming in was just so over-the-top. During our heyday, we were making $10,000 to $20,000 a day.
“And we went all out. We always rented exclusive spots, like this place in Barcelona that was $6,000 a month.
“Then, next thing you know, we were going to antique stores and buying things to fill the house. It really just unwinded [sic] from there.”
Things started to go wrong for Sheraton, though.
His sudden success intensified his alcoholism, and a $12.5 million lawsuit against Coors when they developed an almost identical app didn’t help matters.
“The app’s sudden massive popularity and that lifestyle - coupled with all the publicity and stress that comes with it - is an avalanche that can destroy people,” he continued.
“When you have a problem with alcohol, all those problems are exacerbated.”
The case with Coors was eventually settled on ‘confidential terms’.
As with all novelties of this kind, iBeer eventually fizzled out and Sheraton decided to step away from his company Hottrix.
Now, he lives on a farm in Spain and is still creating mobile apps to be used by magicians in their tricks.
It’s a job he clearly loves, and he has no regrets about his time in the limelight with iBeer.
He concluded: “iBeer is the burp that grew bigger than me.
“I’m glad to be hiding out with my family and fruit trees. I feel a lot more comfortable doing this than having to deal with an app that looks like a beer.”
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