There has been very little information available about what we can expect to see for iPad app prices and their method of publishing. With the increased size of the screen, many are calling for greatly increased prices noting that the iPad is more like a laptop computer than it is a mobile device. Others believe that since the operating system and development environment are pretty much duplicates of the iPhone that app prices will fall in a similar range. We did a quick survey of some developers to see what their plans are for how they are going to release their iPad apps and what we can expect in iPad app prices.
In addition to the price question, how will applications be released? Apple has made available to developers two different ways to create applications for the iPad. In addition there are various forms of those two methods developers are looking to use as well.
Univeral or HD/XL?
The first method of iPad app creation is to create a unique application, an app with a new name and a unique bundle id. These iPad only apps, while they may share the same functions of their iPhone versions, will be unique and require customers to purchase the iPad version even if they have already purchased the iPhone version. We will also likely see some applications as iPad only that are unique to the iPad in that they just wouldn't work on the iPhone with a small screen.
The second method to create an iPad application is to release what is designated by Apple as a Universal build app. These are apps that work both on the iPhone and the iPad. The apps have functionality built in that will recognize if they are running on an iPad and show the proper iPad controls and display full screen on the device. For the customer, this is the obvious preference. If you have already bought the iPhone version, the iPad version is just an update away, at no additional cost.
In our survey of developers, a slight majority (52%) indicated that they will be developing Universal builds for their iPad applications over iPad specific (48%) versions.
Since Apple has indicated that Universal builds that are updates to existing apps should not yet be submitted to the App Store, this leaves the developer of universal builds at a little bit of a disadvantage as it's likely they will not be available for the device launch on 4/3.
Read on for more results of our developer survey, and have your say in our consumer survey.
Another interesting aspect is how will users respond to iPad only versions. We finicky users like stuff for free! While most recognize the developers right to increase revenue by creating iPad only versions, once user compare those apps to universal builds, there will be an outcry from users. It's to be expected, even if it's not justified.
There are good reasons for the developer for creating iPad only versions. These reasons are very difficult to relay to the user though. In our survey, Jiva DeVoe gave some great reasons for creating iPad only versions:
"#1. File size. My iPhone app is already 75MB... I can't justify the additional weight of the iPad art assets.
#2. I think the code will be less complex having a split version. Less "if(iPad)
" type code. That sounds tricky to debug. I'll share code between them, but I won't do one release for both platforms.
#3. I really want to take advantage of the iPad platform, and with a seperate version, I'll be less tempted to make it just 'Good enough' by leaving an iPhone-specific thing in there."
While from a developer standpoint, these all seem like great reasons to create iPad specific versions. But try explaining that to the user, a much more difficult task. Developer David Frampton, creator of Chopper sees it differently:
"Universal makes sense for a 3D game like Chopper 2, as there is very little extra content on offer, aside from a few higher resolution textures. Also, for me this is an easy port, and one I had always anticipated. So there is no reason to charge customers twice for essentially the same product. There will probably be a small increase in app size as a result, but this isn't a major concern for me."
And developer Mike Piontek weighs in on the customer side.
"I don't want my existing customers to have to buy a new app just to use it on their iPad. I also think that dealing with separate versions of a bunch of apps is going to be a hassle, so I hope universal apps are more common.
That said, I really wish I could charge a small upgrade fee for existing users. It's a lot of work to build an iPad compatible version, and customers with multiple devices will put more strain on my servers. While I could take advantage of In App Purchase in some way, I really wish Apple would just give us the option of charging a small upgrade fee. Not being able to do that is the only thing that's made me consider doing a separate version."
The option of using in-app purchase to unlock iPad only features is an interesting one and one that might be a good compromise to allow users to maintain a single application while compensating developers for the time it takes to enhance an app to take advantage of the iPad features.
The expense for creating the iPad version of most applications will be considerable. Non-3D games will be even more expensive to upsize to the new iPad dimensions. While most agree that the user should foot the bill for these updates as it is the consumer that is getting the extra benefit, that communication will be very difficult.
James Brown, the developer of Ancient Frog will be splitting the difference:
"The current iPhone version will be upgraded to be native iPad / iPhone, but there will also be a separate iPad-only version. "
The next big issue is pricing. How will pricing of iPad apps come out? Will developers of Universal apps increase their prices?
For developers of Universal apps, the majority (56%) will keep the prices the same as their current iPhone-only apps. Only 10% of the respondents indicated that prices will likely go up with the addition if iPad optimized features.
There really is no consensus on iPad only applications. The largest percentage of responses to the survey (42%) said that they were currently uncertain of what their pricing would be in relation to iPhone app prices. The second largest group (32%) indicated that their prices would match iPhone app prices though. 13% indicated the prices would be about 1.5x the cost of iPhone applications and 11% indicated double the price.
While we don't know much about game pricing for the iPad yet, we do have a couple indications on the application front. Apple has already stated that they will be releasing the three iWork applications for the iPad priced at $9.99 each. Effectively this will be setting the bar for applications of similar functionality and scope.
But one developer is apparently going well beyond that price point. OmniGroup, developer of many great Mac desktop applications announced recently that they were going full-bore into the iPad marketplace and developing all of their core applications for the iPad. AppAdvice have uncovered that their first application, OmniGraffle has already been approved for sale in the App Store. This iPad only application carries a hefty price tag of $49.99. A risky price point that could see application prices rise for the iPad, if successful.
We tried to contact Omni Group for verification of this, but at the time of publication they had not responded.
Release Day Quickly Approaching
When the app store first launched, there were over 500 applications and games on it, ready for the app hungry consumers. When the iPad App Store launches, it will be a different world and there are a few things to consider. Developers saw the impact of being in the App Store on day one had to the iPhone apps that were available. Lots of consumers with new devices means that they will be looking for applications to try on their new devices. This could translate to lots of sales.
When the iPhone App Store launched, there were already devices available that developers could test on. Currently very few developers have even touched an iPad. Apple preferring to keep them under lock and key and only release a few to larger developers. This leaves the developers to let Apple test their applications on the iPad to make sure they work. But Apple can't test them to make sure they function correctly. So the vast majority of iPad applications released on day one will be untested on the device by their developers. And we can expect lots of quick updates immediately following the initial release.
There are also a lot more developers signed up for the iPhone/iPad SDK program than there were before the iPhone App Store launch. This could indicate more people readying applications for the iPad launch.
Some developers, to be part of the rush to the iPad App Store, are releasing iPad only versions to take advantage of the launch. It's a good marketing opportunity. Be there when it launches and the fervor is at it's height. We'll see if that decision is a good one by what consumers response to iPad only versions of applications they already have on the iPhone is.
How many apps will we see on release day? There's no way to know for sure since we don't have access to the list of applications until the iPad App Store is launched on 4/3. We really have no idea how many iPad apps we will see released on the first day. But my guess is we will see a fair number more than the 500 that the iPhone launched with. While some developers of Universal apps will wait until 4/3 to submit their application, we will see lots of Universal apps go live the week following the launch.
Let's Hear From You
What do you think, the consumer? We want to hear your feedback. Take this quick little survey and let us know what you want to see with iPad apps (universal / unique), pricing, etc.