In Apple Keynote today, they mentioned a second gold rush coming for developers, due to the iPad opening up a whole new market for developers. There exist no real tablet apps. Whoo! New Market!
I think it’s interesting that they actually referred to it as a gold rush, since I don’t recall Apple ever calling the initial AppStore wave a gold rush. But I got to thinking tonight… is it really going to be a gold rush? Or did they just realize that they can work us into a frenzy?
There are quite a few things that make this very unlike the original gold rush.
Factors that I think made the original gold rush what it was:
- When the AppStore opened, there were already millions of iPhones out there, and boy did those users want apps. Like dogs at a screen door.
- There existed no apps for the iPhone except for iPhone optimized web apps. So… no apps for the iPhone.
- The iPhone was just gaining momentum then. The world was in “as soon as I can, I’m replacing my crap phone with an iPhone” mode.
- There were few developers. I vaguely recall it being nearly invite-only even? Otherwise I can’t think of why I’d not have given it a go.
- The need was clear: we need software for this internet-in-our-pocket device that we’re going to have with us everywhere
These don’t really hold true. Compared:
- The iPad goes on sale in 60ish days. I don’t know when the first iPad apps will be going live on the store. If I had to wager a bet, I’d say “soonish” (a couple of weeks?) afterwards. Apple will sell a bunch of these on opening day I’m pretty sure. Millions, I don’t think so.
- This is the big one. It’s starting out with a catalog of 140,000 apps available for it. They won’t be pretty, but they’ll work. And anyone who had an iPhone will be transferring these apps to the iPad for free. We’re competing with ourselves here.
- I’m still not 100% sure I get who will be their big target market. I have theories, but it’s nowhere near as mass-market as the iPhone and iPod Touch.
- Every joe and his dog does Cocoa Touch now. Not well, but they do it. I’d be very curious to know how many downloads of the SDK happened today. Pretty much everyone I know got it.
- Along with #3… when I’m brainstorming for this thing, I have trouble picturing my target market.
I’m looking forward to developing for the iPad, and I’m going to try to make sure I have a good app ready for day 1 on the store. Not because I think it’ll be a gold rush, but because I’m sure I won’t be able to not play with the SDK. UIKit is a _lot_ of fun to work with. I had a love/hate relationship with iPhone development. The app has to be small, and you’re playing with very few pixels. This forces you to trim down and polish. This is awesome, but it also made it very difficult to build larger more elaborate apps. The iPad will be enabling this. Maybe that’s the ‘trick’ to this whole thing. It’ll be enabling us to build bigger versions of our apps that do more. That still doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a market waiting for us, but it’s a start.