A Brief Story of The iFart

The early days of the iPhone and the App Store were also the glory days of novelty apps. It meant that we wouldn’t just be able to make calls or send text messages to someone wherever we went. We would also be able to play games with them – and also play games on them.

Once upon a time, only about fifty or so apps were dedicated to simulating fart noises on the iPhone and iPod touch. Are fart apps tasteless apps? Definitely. But why were there so many? Apparently, there was big money in fart apps – for the most popular ones, they used to rake in almost $10,000 a day. That is definitely a stupid idea that made millions.

The original “fart” app who instigated a “stinky” revolution was the iFart. But how to use it?

You open the iFart app, select any of the 30-or-so fart sounds, and tap on the “Fart Now” button. It offers a range of farting sounds of different tones and timbres. Favorite iFart sounds include Dirty Raoul, The Brown Mosquito, and Wipe Out. There are the standard features, notably the “Sneak Attack” if you want to embarrass someone by “farting” next to them, and “Security Fart” which allows your phone to “fart” if someone tries to use it without your permission.

iFart (or iFart Mobile) is the brainchild of Joel Comm, CEO of InfoMedia, a social media consulting firm. He is also the founder of ClassicGames, a multiplayer gaming website bought by Yahoo! in 1997 and became the precursor for Yahoo! Games. So, he was no stranger to amusement when he created and launched iFart in 2008.

The 2009 description on the App Store says: “iFart Mobile is the ORIGINAL Digital Sound Machine and entertainment system which brings endless laughs and enjoyment to its users.” When the iFart app first launched, it cost $0.99, and Apple took 30% of the pie. As the app developer, Comm made a $9,200 profit daily – not a bad amount of money for creating a “stinking” app.

And that’s even more impressive, considering that Apple did not once believe that fart apps made it to the App Store’s standards. Previously, the giant tech company rejected similar novelty apps (such as Pull My Finger) because it had “limited utility.” But eventually, Apple reversed its decision and began to approve other fart apps.

iFart used to linger frequently on several lists of top iPhone novelty apps during its heyday. It was also one of the top-ranking paid iPhone apps. Even Hollywood celebrities, such as George Clooney and Kathie Lee Gifford as well as celebrity athlete Lance Armstrong, got iFart on their own iPhones.

So, what happened to the iFart today?

The iFart app has sniffed out time and newer, hotter apps to remain one of the most enduring iPhone apps of all time. As of this writing, it ranks at #56 in the App Store’s “Entertainment” category. It’s pretty doing well, considering it has slightly increased its up-front cost to $1.99, and in the face of ads and in-app purchases.

People, especially budding entrepreneurs, can learn a lot from iFart’s enduring success. The team behind it knows the advantage of jumping into a trend early, as well as the value of good marketing. There’s another (and perhaps real) reason for iFart’s success – it knows all too well that flatulence will never cease to be funny.