Apple will make a game just for you if you give them $50 billion

Gotta keep the big shareholders satisfied.
Gotta keep the big shareholders satisfied.
Image: AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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Apple’s newest iPhone game—only the second the company has ever developed for its own App Store—appears to be targeted at a very small and specific demographic: Omaha-area billionaires aged 85 and up.

“Warren Buffett’s Paper Wizard” was announced earlier this month with a short video ad played just before the start of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting in Omaha on May 5. Berkshire chairman Warren Buffett doesn’t use an iPhone, but Apple has good reason to keep him a happy customer. Berkshire now owns nearly 250 million Apple shares worth nearly $50 billion, making it the company’s third-largest institutional investor.

During the six-hour Berkshire meeting’s lunch break, Apple CEO Tim Cook was mobbed by cell phone camera-wielding fans outside a kiosk selling Kraft Heinz products—another Berkshire holding that’s performed considerably worse than Apple in the last year.

Berkshire’s investment validates Apple’s contention that it’s more than just a tech company, Cook told CNBC at the meeting.

“[Buffett] has been very clear, he didn’t invest in technology companies and companies he didn’t understand. He’s been totally clear with that. And so he obviously views Apple as a consumer company,” Cook said.

Apple’s Paper Wizard is a free game that will feel very familiar to fans of the 1980s Atari game “Paperboy.” Players earn points by flinging papers at targets on houses and office buildings in digital Omaha; they lose points by striking birds and passing cars. Buffett himself had a paper delivery route in the mid-1940s, like many teenagers at the time. Unlike most teenagers, by the age of 15 he’d put $1,200 of his earnings in a profit-sharing investment on a 40-acre Nebraska farm.

Barely a week after the game’s debut, MacRumors is reporting that it’s no longer available in the App Store outside the US. Suspiciously, given his lack of familiarity with the iPhone, Buffett currently tops the leaderboard with a score of 15,350. It’s possible Apple designed the game not for its core customers, but for a specific and deep-pocketed one.

Check out that high score.
Check out that high score.