Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Will there be an iPad App Gold Rush?

In the iPad promo video, Apple VP Scott Forstall predicts a whole new gold rush for iPad apps.

For games, this is true. People will buy and enjoy games on the big screen. But what about other apps?

Excluding reMail, the apps I use most on my iPhone are the New York Times app, Foursquare, Facebook, Tweetie, Yelp, Kayak, Skype, Snow Report, and AT&T myWireless. Almost all of these are there to display content and do social networking.

But why do I use the New York Times app instead of the website?
  1. The NYT app lets me get to the news faster: On my iPhone 3G on Wifi, Safari loads in 55 seconds. The NYT starts up and shows me the latest news in 18 seconds.
  2. The NYT app is optimized for the small screen - the web version isn't.

The iPad loads instantly. Daring Fireball says the iPad is "fast, fast, fast". That makes it much more attractive to skip writing an app and just use HTML 5:

  1. Web apps are an order of magnitude easier to develop than iPad apps.
  2. Apps are substantially slower to update given the iPhone approval process and waiting for users to get the update. [*]
  3. It's easy to make a version of the page optimized for iPad's screen and the size of your finger.
  4. HTML 5 will let you offer offline functionality.

Sounds familiar? Yes, Google's Vic Gundotra has been saying that web apps are the way:

"We believe the web has won and over the next several years, the browser, for economic reasons almost, will become the platform that matters and certainly that’s where Google is investing."

For the iPhone, this hasn't come true yet. But the iPhone's browser are too slow. On the iPad this might change - instead of native apps, we might see a thousand web apps bloom.

[*] Thanks to commenter Tom Pickney for pointing this out.

More on iPad: What the iPad means for Developers


Tom Pinckney said...

It's also several orders of magnitude slower to update given the iphone approval process and waiting for users to get the update.

Gabor said...

Tom - good point, I should add that. Hope things are well over at Hunch!

Anonymous said...

Jobs has one again done an incredible job hyping his latest product. I expect to see another frenzy of people lined up outside their local Apple store to get their hand on an iPad. It might now be as cool as an iPhone but it will sell!