Apple’s Flashlight Is Why We Can’t Fund Nice Dumb Things

Flashlight apps are a testament to the power and simplicity of modern technology. Power outage because of a hurricane? There’s an app for that. Need to stealthily kill a mosquito without waking up your partner? There’s an app for that, too.

Actually, there are more than 1,000 in the App Store alone, many with 5-star ratings, because flashlight apps, which turn the flash of your iPhone camera into a literal flashlight, are awesome. Flashlight apps make you feel like your phone is more Swiss Army knife than Twitter receptacle.

With that innocuous seeming icon on the left there, Apple essentially just mass-exterminated every flashlight app in the App Store. It will be adding its own Flashlight to iOS 7 Control Center, the feature accessible with a swipe and a tap. Versus apps that take so many clicks to open you might as well wait for your eyes to adjust to the dark.

Apple routinely turns to the developer ecosystem for “inspiration” for its own products, thus killing said inspiration. Hence the cliche question, “What will happen if Apple (or Google) does this?” at almost every VC pitch meeting. But in most cases, like Filters taking on Instagram and iTunes Radio taking on Pandora, the stakes are higher.

Of the 50 flashlight iOS apps that exist in CrunchBase, only one, made by i4software, is funded. None are VC-backed.

“We are certainly concerned about this announcement by Apple, as it could affect our core revenue stream. However, we believe that, just like Instagram will survive the addition of filters to the Camera app, our Flashlight app will flourish,” said the very hopeful i4software co-founder Michael Zaletel. “Flashlight will lack brightness control and will require two steps to access. Our app features INSTANT-ON just by tapping the icon on your home screen.”


Flashlight apps, being utility apps, weren’t that big an opportunity to begin with — the only business model being paid ads or downloads. They are also easy to build, which explains the slew of them in the App Store. “This is the curse with utility apps,” said one investor who wished to remain anonymous. “You don’t pay tons for utility stuff, as its value can’t increase a lot over time. You pay at cost plus a bit more. Like the bills you pay every month.”

Still, Apple Flashlight’s gotta sting hard for i4software, iHandy, Jason Ting Utilities and friends just like Apple’s Weather app hurt this guy who made a similar Weather app, which Apple held up for review as it quietly built its own. “According to Apple, no one wanted a flashy weather app. They were so certain of this, they built one themselves.”