Will The iPad Score App Store Gold Or Be A Developer Bust

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When Apple introduced the iPhone and its related App Store, they created a huge new market for developers to create and sell on.  Since that time, many thousands of developers, both individuals and companies, have seen a lot of apps downloaded for a profit.

Now that Apple is about to release their latest wunderkind, the iPad, the question bears asking – will it too have the developer support for applications, and will it be rewarding to the developers that do support it?

A Horse of the Same Color

By initial comparison to the iPhone, it would seem that the iPad is destined to be a follow up success to the iPhone. It can run the same apps,  shares the same AppStore, and it could attract a large and devout existing user base.

In fact, the iPad, which can be loosely described as a large iPhone minus the phone, has the capability of running not only iPhone apps, but also its own higher resolution apps that can bring more detail on the larger screen at one time. It would seem to be a natural fit with the iPhone’s army of developers and the App Store.

A Different Niche

But on closer inspection, the idea that everyone needs an iPad as much as they need a cell phone falls to the wayside. You would not use an iPad as a primary means of communication. Nor would you find it very convenient – it won’t fit in your pocket with screen pointed against the leg for safety. Ladies, it won’t even fit in your purse, unless you carry a very large one. There is no handle on the iPad, and it simply will not travel well as compared to the iPhone.

But of course Apple is not blind to this difference, so they are targeting a different niche of users. Instead of trying to appeal to the typical smart phone customer, they are looking at the book and magazine reader. In fact, Apple is currently lining up many publishers to get their wares on the iPad in time for launch or shortly thereafter. And they are making headway into the publishing industry.

The iPad can represent a rich multimedia experience that brings printed media screaming into the hands of anxious readers. By combining production quality intros with magazines we have the makings of a new standard in the multimedia printed word. A recent iPad demo created by Viv Mag shows exactly where this could lead, and truth be told it is exciting:

Back to the Developers

Okay, so that new media sounds great, but remember the developers we were talking about at the beginning of this article? How does this new rich media experience and niche targeting help them?

Well, the short answer is, it doesn’t. The iPad, as it is being marketed, has a rather specific use in mind in order to serve said niche. According to an article on CNET releasing comScore numbers, iPad savvy consumers broke up their intended uses this way:

50% Surf the Web
48% Check Email
38% Listen to Music
37% Read Books
36% Watch movies and Videos

Note that nowhere on the major list is playing games mentioned. In fact, 36% even stated that they are unlikely to download apps for their iPad. Now, this poll was taken early in the game, but from the marketing I have seen I agree with the findings. If the multimedia magazine takes root on the device (and I can see it having a good chance), then I would expect the reading segment to grow in size quickly. In fact, it represents a new outlet for struggling publishers.

iPad Users Are Not Gamers

While the iPad users are happily reading their books and watching their videos, it would seem that they are not exactly the gaming type. This is unfortunate, since that genre accounts for a lot of the App Store sales. In fact, the CNET article states it this way:

ComScore reported 44 percent of respondents as unlikely to “play action, strategy, role playing, first-person shooter games.”

That is roughly 44 percent of the percentage that will buy an iPad in the first place, which is itself a subset of the iPhone users. Put another way – around half of the iPad users won’t be buying games.

Where Does That Leave Game Developers?

Okay, so, if we had to summarize all of this into a nice neat one liner, it might go like this –

The only trip to the App Store the majority of iPad owners may be making is to pick up the iBooks App.

On the way, they may grab the newly released Kindle application, and maybe even a slingplay app or other video titles.

But the gaming sales on the iPad look to be weak, and that may indeed lead more than a few game developers shooting for iPad sales to find it a bust. Subject to change based on media exposure, of course.

  13 comments for “Will The iPad Score App Store Gold Or Be A Developer Bust

  1. March 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    With the bigger display, the games and apps should give users a better experience compared to the ones on the iphone or ipod. I wonder if they’re going to start going 3D like Nintendo.

  2. March 27, 2010 at 11:39 am

    The bigger display is the key. It gives you a different way of interacting with the device, as compared to the iPhone. You need a different mindset to program for the iPad (as I have recently discovered), and it is going to take some time for ‘best practice’ to emerge (even though Apple has published extensive Human Interface Guidelines), and that will only happen once users get their hands on the device.

  3. March 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I bet the reality will draw a different picture. Market analysis, polls, etc. they don’t mean much if people have to tell their intention for use of a device that hasn’t been released yet.

    I’m sure *everyone* will surf the web and check e-mails on that device, so that is a no-brainer and everyone thinks of that. But get people to *admit* that they would be playing games on a $500+ device – hardly going to happen. Yet, they will, i’m sure of that.

    And once we get past the pass-time games of the iPhone/iPod and make them visually appealing and playful on the large screen, people will come to love the iPad games and in no time they’ll be among the most downloaded Apps on the iPad App Store. I’m sure of that, too.

    But i’m obviously biased being a game developer. 😉

  4. foolTeller
    March 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    fool!! the games wont be the games your used to. they’ll be cool ones thaT you interact with differnelty. like a flight conntrol but on a massive canvas. fool. scrable. monopoly. chess. solitair. poker. all games. the gamers you’re talking about are call of duty fags. the campers probably.


  5. Eric
    March 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    44% buy games? THATS ALMOST HALF. Thats half of all people buying apps also buy games. Sounds like someone is down playing it because they like pc/console gaming. One category to have 44% says it huge. Anyone saying gaming isnt gonna be big is either jealous or clueless. According to your list only %50 surf the web and %48 check mail and %38 for MUSIC. MORE PEOPLE BUY GAMES THAN MUSIC!!! GET A CLUE. this article is SO misinformed.

  6. Lane3128
    March 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    While I see the logic, the majority of original iphone users didn’t see a need for an app store. The device had a value by itself for a full year. People may not have the imagination to guess what kind of apps will be available but rest assured they will download tons. I myself will use this as a productivity device and there will be multiple apps I’m looking forward to including the iWork suite. People may see this as having limiting appeal but thankfully there are 50,000 devs out there that have more imagination. Don’t bet against it cause you’ll be disappointed.

  7. Gonzobot
    March 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I’ve never been sure as to why people are so concerned with games on the iPhone in the first place. Nobody seems to realize it, but the device is TERRIBLE for games! Every time I see a ten dollar version of a ten year old game, I cringe. Duke Nukem? They managed to take one of the most fun games EVAR, and reduce it to bullshit onscreen joystick touchscreen icons. You can’t see the three inch screen when you have two thumbs over two thirds of it…which makes it very very hard to play, being as you sort of need to see to shoot!

    Why people keep doing it I will never understand. We’re how many years on now, and we have how many different versions of Flight Control? (Simple concept. Draw a line to a spot – except now we have DOZENS of them, all roughly the same quality as the average Newgrounds Flash game). I frankly do NOT see the point.

    The Ipad COULD be used for gaming…just not the way you think, and unfortunately also not the way Apple will ever let you. Use it as a controller for your computer screen’s games! Tilt sensor, full multitouch screen, its own speakers, these are all interesting and innovative angles to pursue. But they never will, and you won’t be able to either, because if Steve Jobs doesn’t think you need it, then you don’t get to have it.

    Get the Wepad instead. It will be larger, faster, stronger, CHEAPER, and USABLE. You can run Linux, or Android, and use the app stores or any other repository you choose. You can videochat, or use a USB stick for storage. Basically, its everything MISSING from the Ipad (and iphone, and ipod…), put together in the same package, being sold for a far less Mac Taxed price.

  8. Brandon
    March 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    If they can get the iWork apps and other productivity apps working smoothly I can see this device being VERY nice for business users who don’t want to lug around a laptop all the time. We all know the media portion will work fine but it’s the business apps that are the key IMO – also it would be nice for us iPhone owners to be able to connect our Wi-Fi only iPad to the iPhone so we can get connectivity when on the go. The Palm Pre Plus can do it and I hope AT&T and Apple can sort this out even if it means paying a few more bucks for your iPhone plan but paying a full price for a 3G plan for this device makes no sense. See the big picture and don’t get greedy is my message to AT&T!!

  9. Dr.Smart
    March 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I think you are looking at it in the complete wrong light.
    Can you fit a kindle in your pocket/purse? no.
    How about a Netbook? no.
    a laptop? no.

    “the majority will buy only books in the app store”
    you cant honestly believe this.

    So, because of a survey of what people SAY they are going to use this product for WAYYY before they put their hands on it, it is law?

  10. Brian
    March 27, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I’m looking forward to playing tabletop ‘board’ games on it, in addition to reading and surfing. I suspect it’s going to lend itself quite well to face to face games, being without the scattered pieces and with all the portability of bringing it to a friend’s house. First-person shooter? No. Plants vs. Zombies on the couch while waiting for a commercial, food, etc.? Sure. I’m expecting this to be in my living room as a couch computer, and for easy toting back and forth to work.

  11. Craig
    March 27, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Gaming apps might take a hit, but as someone who has an iPad on order I can tell you that I am looking forward to productivity Apps. I think there will be a large market for task management, notes and other types of productivity apps. The larger screen size of the iPad will make it the perfect platform for things like an interactive recipe book app, or a workout log app. While the iPhone and iPod touch did make a big impact into gaming, I think this device could be the big impact for executives and the kinds of applications they will buy (at much higher prices btw).

  12. Kyle
    March 28, 2010 at 3:08 am

    There are ipad users? Iteresting that it states that ipad users are not gamers when the product hasn’t come out yet

  13. Loweded Wookie
    March 29, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Actually the iPad (especially the 3G version) is the most perfect device for anyone needing information at their finger tips quickly and efficiently.

    This means that people like me (systems engineer), warehousing employees, police, fire, ambulance, doctors, nurses, restaurants, real estate, lawyers… the list carries on like this will ALL benefit from the iPad.

    Just limiting the device to gamers, music listeners, internet surfers, and book readers is narrow minded and shows how little they understand what this device is all about.

    The developers that matter have already realised the potential and those developers will be the Office suite developers, database frontend developers, medical developers, etc. Everything else will slot in perfectly though.

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