Will The iPad Break The App Store? Yes.

Apple’s App Store will suffer its first crisis this year, thanks to the iPad.

At the iPad’s introduction, Steve Jobs made a point about how pixel doubling will enable all current iPhone apps to run on the iPad.

This may be so … but who in their right mind wants to run iPhone apps on the iPad?

I won’t want to.

Just look at how much better “native” — designed for iPad — apps are. Here’s what Calendar and Contacts look like:

The additional pixels of the iPad’s screen enables developers — such as Apple, here — to make apparent the features and options that must be hidden on the smaller screen of the iPhone.

In short, there is just no contest between an iPhone app versus one custom-made for the iPad.

I haven’t bought an iPhone or iPod Touch. There are millions of others out there just like me. They might like their current phone, or are trapped in a long-term contract, or have put it off.

That’s not to say those people won’t buy an iPad.

They most likely will. Because it’s an entirely different thing.

But do you think any of those people will be satisfied running iPhone apps on that larger screen? To have to dig for options and features that would be plainly seen with an iPad-customized app?

Hell no!

And this is where the first crisis of the App Store happens.

The mass of iPad buyers are not going to want to wade through near one-hundred and fifty-thousand listings in order to find apps that are really iPad-only.

When stereo came along, people wanted their records in stereo.

When color TV came along, people eschewed watching anything in black and white.

When DVDs came along, people were happy to drop VHS.

In the same way, people who buy an iPad are not going to want iPhone apps. They will want — they will demand — iPad apps. Period.

And this isn’t a simple thing. It’s not a matter of Apple setting up an “iPad App Store.” It gets more complicated than that.

Because say someone buys an iPhone app based on a developer stating an iPad version is coming. What happens when that iPad version is released? Does that person have to pay again for that app? Why should they have to — especially if they don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch that can use the app?

Maybe Apple will develop a solution for that.

But there’s also this:

Instead of scaling up iPhone applications for the iPad, it’s going to be more that we’ll have to scale down desktop applications. There’s an instant disadvantage to any developer who hasn’t got established desktop software in their repertoire. Most of our iPhone apps simply will not work on the iPad because the apps’ concepts do not fit this new platform. Noel of SnappyTouch has already ‘announced’ that he will not be porting his existing iPhone app to iPad, and I think that will ring true with many other developers.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

So what happens when a different developer “poaches” the idea of a developer who won’t port to iPad? Will they resort to a DMCA Takedown notice or judicial restraining order?

This gets very complex very fast.

I’m not even going to get into the pushback Apple is getting from the print publishing world. That’s the subject for another post.

What’s going to happen very shortly after the iPad’s release is Apple discovering that it hasn’t thought of everything — yet again.

And this will be another argument for Apple getting itself in gear and spinning off the iTunes Store into the Apple Merchant Platform and letting individual vendors deal with their customers directly.

18 responses to “Will The iPad Break The App Store? Yes.

  1. One thing that I picked up from the dev docs and from discussions is that Apple is pushing devs very hard to deliver iPad applications as universal apps.

    Basically this would mean that the same application binary contains two user interfaces and loads the iPad one on the iPad and the iPhone one on the iPhone.

    So, the idea is to buy once and use everywhere.

    This is obviously what Apple *wants*, doesn’t mean it’s what they’ll get, but still.

    The foundations of a Apple Merchant Platform are already there, as well. In App Purchases are clearly something that could evolve into a more generic, broader merchant platform.

    The App Store is their weakest link at the moment which, as you say, could blow up in their faces.

  2. Let’s see how many devs do that. It’d make life easier for buyers — like me!

  3. I think that’s overstated and I thought it was when Stephen wrote it.

    There is a very real opportunity for more sophisticated apps and there will be some iPhone apps which simply will not translate up very well.

    There will still be a lot of desktop apps which won’t scale down either. The idea is no different to developing for iPhone. – remove features until the app is useless, then put the last one back!

  4. I disagree. I believe we are going to see a second app store gold rush by all the devs who missed the first app store gold rush. By this time next year, 150k apps will be a distant memory. And BTW, separating iPad apps from iPhone apps shouldn’t really be that hard. I think Apple will figure that out.
    Plus the size of the iPad opens up a whole new universe of apps and peripherals which would be impossible on the iPhone.

  5. While I may not be typical, I have dozens of iPhone apps that would work better simply by running pixel-doubled on an iPad, particularly musical instruments and art apps. I hate it when you marginalize me like that!

  6. I had app designs that simply didn’t work on the small iPhone screen, all of which I will only write for the iPad because it’s the only place they can work.

  7. For sure, a simple tag on the apps that marks the ones ready for the Pad will be easy to do and easily take care of the issue.

    The searching for apps is a *general* problem– whether for iPhone or iPad! They need to redesign and clean up the cluttered and too busy iTunes interface!

    It especially needs to permit users to change the font size of the display, the reviews, etc. Aging boomers can’t read a thing!

    A nicely done App Store with ready searching within that, including setting iPad flags, free apps, ratings filters (positive, most helpful, etc.) would work wonders. (They have some of that, but it’s convoluted.)

  8. Let me start by agreeing with your assertion that iPad owners will want to seek out apps specifically designed for the device. Legacy support for iPhone apps is just a way to preserve the value of previous purchases, and to provide stopgap functionality until the real iPad apps come along. It’s certainly better than nothing.

    But after that, the article goes off the rails. The limits some people will go to in order to create FUD regarding Apple apparently know no bounds. To address your app store “concerns”:

    Apple will make it very easy to find Apps specifically optimized for the iPad. One solution could be as simple as providing three radio buttons for filtering apps…

    Find apps optimized for:
    * iPhone and iPod Touch only
    * iPad only
    * All

    If the iPad takes off (and it will), the majority of developers will adapt their existing apps for it rather than leaving money on the table. After all they have a coding and marketing head start on the competition. Those that don’t act aggressively deserve to have someone else fill the gap. Consumers win either way.

    The fear-mongering about DCMA take downs is silly. There are already plenty of apps with duplicated functionality in the app store, yet things seem to be running smoothly. The method of dealing with issues of intellectual property won’t change one iota with the addition of iPad apps.

    Because of the effort involved in app redesign, I expect that developers will likely consider the iPad version (or universal version) of their software as a separate product rather than an a free upgrade. This is reasonable and I doubt that people will have a problem understanding this. People are already used to paying for apps when a major change in functionality occurs. But because in-app purchases are supported, it should be possible to offer a paid upgrade (at less than full price) if that’s what a developer chooses.

    I wish people would wait and see if there are real problems before assuming the worst. But I guess Apple bashers grasp at whatever straws they can.

  9. >>>The fear-mongering about DCMA take downs is silly.

    You are underinformed about how the DMCA Takedowns have been abused.

  10. There’s always a crank like you to come along to spoil things. But seriously, you could fit an entire band on that iPad screen. That’s more exciting than a single instrument, no?

  11. SnappyTouch? Lets see, thats an app that creates postcards, and an alarm-clock for your cup of tea.

    Neither of these screams “need” to port to the iPad – they’ll pixel double just fine.

  12. I’m looking forward to native iPad apps, but I’m glad I’ll be able to run thousands of apps already available for the iPhone and iPod touch.

  13. Dude, I think you’re being an idiot. The store will quickly fill up with iPad apps. This is a stop-gap measure. Think Classic in OS X or Rosetta.

  14. I’m very sure that one can easily select iPad-only Apps in the Apple Store.

    Since it is a new Platform, Apple is sure to give it its own category. It would be easy to do.

  15. I didn’t mean to suggest that the DMCA hasn’t ever abused– only that if it was going to cause a serious problem with Apple’s app store, we would certainly know it by now. Apple seems to be doing a good job of policing copyright violations on its own.

  16. Oh just you wait. There’s a whole shitstorm with DMCA coming up — especially now that Apple will be selling eBooks.

  17. Yes, I’m sure the iPad-specific apps will be more groovalicious, although you should send me your iPad so I can test the theory rigorously.

  18. >>>although you should send me your iPad

    Stop stealing my lines.