iPad App Prices — what can we expect? We ask the app developers

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.