potterIndependent developers have had great success creating apps for the iPhone in the past couple of years. But big brands are expected to elbow their way into the market as it grows more mainstream.

So it’s worth nothing that Warner Bros. has launched its first Harry Potter app on the AppStore this morning. Harry Potter Spells is a magic game that lets players cast spells at their opponents by using their phones as wands. With more than 100,000 apps on the iPhone, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd. One way to do so is to launch an app with a familiar brand name. But only the highest-quality branded apps are standing out these days.

The game has 14 spells for wizards-in training. Players can conjure their magic alone or duel each other by casting spells from one device. See the trailer here. The app costs $4.99. In the app, players receive an invitation to join the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, then they make a ceremonial visit to Ollivanders wand shop where they can pick up a wand. Then they are placed into one of four houses of wizards at Hogwarts. They learn how to cast spells using hand gestures and then can launch into duels. The app keeps tracks of the player’s accomplishments and total number of house points earned by each group of players. The player can also see his or her rank within the house and the school.

The app comes with its own House Point Leaderboard and Facebook integration, which allows players to post their profiles and scores on Facebook. The app was distributed by Warner Bros. Digital Distribution on behalf of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

discoverybeat[The excitement in this industry is one of the reasons why we’re holding an executive event called DiscoveryBeat on Dec. 8 in San Francisco. The event will explore the secret recipe for getting your social game or mobile phone application “discovered” in an age of increasing noise. We’ll have a panel on how big brands are breaking into the new world of apps. Get your early bird ticket by Nov. 20.]

Don’t miss MobileBeat 2010, VentureBeat’s conference on the future of mobile. The theme: “The year of the superphone and who will profit.” Now expanded to two days, MobileBeat 2010 will take place on July 12-13 at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Early-bird pricing is available until May 15. For complete conference details, or to apply for the MobileBeat Startup Competition, click here.