iPad Could Mean Big Opportunities for Application Developers

Now that Apple’s unveiled its iPad, market chatter has begun about the types of applications that will give life to what some are calling a revolutionary device. For instance, textbook publishers are anticipating iPad will be a natural for the classroom, so they’re enlisting the services of third-party developers to build adaptations of their titles. McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, Pearson and Kaplan have all struck deals with the developer ScrollMotion to build iPad applications that bring test preparation, study guides and new types of instructional materials to the classroom. And, notes Mashable:

iPadDespite Apple’s relative lack of commentary on the iPad’s potential for the educational sector during its iPad announcement last week, it appears that textbook publishers aren’t waiting to be invited. Still, it’s yet unclear how or even if the iPad or other upcoming tablet devices will achieve wide adoption in the classroom, considering the cost of employing new technologies and the competition with other portable computing tools, particularly netbooks. But no matter what device ecosystem ends up holding sway, it’s potentially great news to students who stand to benefit from an emerging renaissance in digital learning materials.

This means revenue opportunities for application developers, and development capital already is starting to flow. CNET and E! Online co-founder Kevin Wendle has teamed with MusicNation and Original Signal co-founder Daniel Klaus to form AppFund, a New York-based company that aims to help entrepreneurs create and launch iPad and other Tablet-based applications. AppFund’s investments range from $5,000 to $500,000, "depending on the complexity of each application and its potential to tap into the mobile end-user market." The company is encouraging developers to submit proposals ASAP in order to be part of a launch of the first iPad application by summer 2010.

How many applications will be created for the iPad? Given that Apple believes iPhone applications will grow to more than 200,000, some observers think developers will port existing their ideas to the new device. So, opportunities could be huge. Apple already is setting a standard, through its iPad User Experience Guidelines, of what application developers should aim for. Some key points:

  • Applications should work no matter how you hold the iPad, and should encourage people to interact with the device from any side.
  • Applications shouldn’t just be bigger, but should "give people innovative ways to interact with content while they perform a clearly defined, finite task." In other words, don’t fill the large screen with features not directly related to the main task.
  • They should encourage sharing of a single device and the virtual sharing of data.
  • The large iPad screen provides an area for multi-finger gestures, including input from more than one person.
  • And the iPad shouldn’t feel like a computer. When creating and manipulating files, or sharing them with a computer, users shouldn’t feel like they are using a file system.

For more details, check out this article on Gizmodo.com. Then start kicking around ideas for the types of applications you can create for Apple’s newest baby.

— Sonia Lelii

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