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?
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.