iPad Mobile Apps Store: Big Launch, Big Prices

There was no App Store when the iPhone launched in 2007. That would come one year later, with the introduction of the iPhone 3G. On launch day in July, 2008, the App Store featured 500 applications.

On Saturday, the iPad will be arriving in mailboxes and on doorsteps across the country. New owners will be able to connect to the iPad App Store with a whole lot more choices than iPhone users had two years ago.

About 150,000 choices, to be exact.

The iPhone/iPod Touch App Store currently has 150,000 apps, and Apple is planning on making all of them available for the iPad, along with apps specifically written for the new tablet. The blog App Annie, which follows the iPhone app store market, has dug up some clues about those future apps.

First, some apps are being dubbed "HD," which appears to be a designation either Apple or developers are giving to the iPad versions of iPhone apps. Secondly, App Annie noticed that many iPad apps and games are going for a higher price in general over the iPhone, and that existing iPhone apps that have been ported are commanding higher prices.

While iPhone apps generally run from $0.99 to $4.99, with the occasional big app or game going over $9.99, the apps seen by App Annie all started at $4.99 and went up into double digit pricing from there.

Apple's Dueling Mobile Applications

It's impossible to make any judgments about the price differences between the platforms, since no one has seen them running yet. They will obviously have to offer a premium experience over the iPhone to command a higher price or they will be rejected fast, notes Ben Bajarin, analyst with Creative Strategies.

"Taking an iPhone app that was just ported to the iPad and charging more won't be sustainable. The only way to justify those premiums will be a platform-specific experience, but the apps are likely not going to be very good because of the short development time," he told InternetNews.com.

iPad developers have not had much time to test their apps in a software simulator and they have had no chance to do effective testing on hardware. The vast majority won't have an iPad on which to run their apps until Saturday.

Bajarin referred to an old joke in the video game industry, called "first waffle off the griddle." The first few waffles made on a griddle don't come out very well until the device warms up. It's an allusion to the fact that launch titles on a new platform are generally sub-par because it takes a while for developers to learn the full capabilities of a platform.

"It will just take developers time to recognize how to make an app that is all they wished it could be on the iPad as opposed to taking their existing iPhone software and porting it over to the iPad," he said. "That doesn't mean there won't be very good apps differentiated from the iPhone that accentuate the value of large screen real estate and are worth more."

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


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