Considering the thousands of publishers, developers and individuals who have released games for iPhone and iPod touch in 2009, the task of picking out the relatively small number of 50 as being 'top' may seem to be a Sisyphean, if not downright suicidal, exercise.
And having spent considerable time engaged in the task, I might be inclined to agree with you. Yet, there is also a wealth of useful information to be unearthed, while the process of comparing companies forces us to really think about what we mean by the term top developers.
So to quickly explain the criteria. This list is focused on developers but publishers - including those that don't have internal development capacity - have been included where appropriate.
In terms of the ranking of individual companies, of course, this is a subjective process but rigor is provided by noting sales performance, critical acclaim of releases, innovation in terms of business approach, and the number and range of titles released during 2009, in that order of importance.
You can read about the companies listed from 40 to 31 here, 30 to 21 here, 20 to 11 here, and 10 to 1 here.
50. Red Rocket Games
Set up by veterans from EA, Sega, Activision, and Disney Online, Red Rocket released a number of games during 2009: Mevo and the Grooveriders, Little Runner, Dark Harvest and The Hand Who Loved Me, demonstrating a quirky style and a willingness to try new things.
The UK mobile publisher came to the iPhone in 2009 with a range of interesting titles. These included ports of Tumblebugs and the highly regarded Go! Go! Rescue Squad, the innovative gameplay of Timeloop and the sweet tactile action of Arachnadoodle.
Proving that one-man bands could make an impact with the critics, if less so commercially, ex-Lionhead and Sony developer Tak Fung released one of the year's most enjoyable games in the form of his frantic 2D arcade shooter MiniSquadron.
47. Strange Flavour
One of the less high profile iPhone developers as its games are published by Freeverse, British brothers Aaron and Adam Fothergill built on their successful 2008 release Flick Fishing - which broke the million sales barrier in 2009 - with two new games, Slotz Racer and Grunts.
46. Appy Entertainment
The US outfit formed from veterans from console developer High Moon Studio has been one of the smarter operators on the App Store. Intelligent PR and marketing for its FaceFighter app got it to over a million downloads, while more traditional game fare came in the tasty shape of Zombie Pizza.
45. Candy Cane
Having found success in 2008 with addictive puzzler Fuzzle, in 2009, the Estonian developer doubled up releasing a similar puzzler Fling! Initially faced with slow sales, it took the decision to make the game free for a period. With the price returned to 99c, Fling! bounced up the charts, reaching #1 in the US, UK and Canada.
44. John E Hartzog
Another of the one-man bands who found success during 2009, Hartzog's simple 99c castle defence game StickWars was released in April and from that point on became a fixture at the top of the App Store, gaining the #1 position during June.
While this talented Canadian studio found 2008 more challenging than 2009, it continued to release plenty of top class games, continuing its Toy Bot Diaries as well as branching out with the Spy Bot Chronicles, Zombie Attack! and A.D.D. It was eventually rewarded with chart success thanks to November release Implode!.
42. MoreGames Entertainment
Despite working on well regarded and successful games such as iDracula and Knights Onrush - both of which can be argued to have defined the topdown shooter and castle defence genres respectively - Russian developer MoreGames keeps a low profile as its titles are published by Chillingo.
41. Bryan Mitchell
Elegantly simple and yet both challenging and addictive, Bryan Mitchell's Geared was one of those 99c games that snuck up on the App Store #1 position at launch and refused to let go. He also released Spaceballs, a game that's had an incredible 51 price changes since April.
Read on for the top 40 iPhone developers or check out the full PG.Biz 2009 iPhone developers list.