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2011: The Year of iPad Innovation?

by on December 29th, 2010

With 2011 only days away, it’s worthwhile to look forward and focus on the real innovation behind the iPad – the apps. It’s easy to focus on rumoured hardware specs and new iOS features. It’s even easier to forget that they only form the platform on which innovative, intriguing and ingenious apps are built. So let’s look back at 2010 and see what we can possibly glean for app innovation in 2011.

More Apps for Enterprise

Apple clearly wants to target the enterprise market before other devices and platforms grain traction in the space, and while the iWorks suite, AirPrint and stronger encryption are steps in the right direction, there are still ways to go before it’s truly enterprise-ready. Apple or the app developers will need to hook into the enterprise architecture to access file servers and environments seamlessly. I would expect a large developer such as Apple, Citrix, or maybe even Microsoft to step in and develop iPad specific solutions that will fill this growing need.

Less Gimmicks, More Genius

The days of cheaply made fart and gimmick apps are over. iPad users are demanding more polished and well-thought apps that integrate well with their lives. Even simple ports of popular iPhone software [think WordPress or Twitter] are redesigned to meet this need. With this in mind, app developers will need to think about new and different ways that users will interact with their devices. For example, think of Smule’s Magic Fiddle app. Even while the app doesn’t teach you how to play a real fiddle, the user experience was unique and forced the user to interact with their iPads in completely new ways.

I would definitely expect more of this in 2011.

Convergence around Platforms & Plug-And-Play

While many developers haven’t tapped into the In-App purchase mechanism in the iOS SDK, there is a huge potential for growth in this space. While Apple will [or already has] surely clamp down on this type of behaviour, imagine the possibility of games or other similar apps being sold piece-meal through a Steam-like store, where the code-base is the clean, ultra-easy to use and open to be built upon by anyone. Think Tap Tap Revenge, but with more than just music tracks.

Unfortunately, Apple’s track record on app development definitely points away from this trend. But it’s good to dream, no?

iAds Drive Down App Prices

With the recently launch of the first iAd on the iPad, developers may be able to start recuperating development costs down the road. Hopefully, this will finally allow app prices to fall from the $5-$10 range to a much more reasonable $2-$5 range. While I don’t foresee ads completely funding app costs, a price drop is certainly not an unreasonable thing to see.

Innovative Hardware Integration

With car manufacturers integrating iOS devices into their latest car models, there would be little surprise that 2011 would be a year where other peripherals would begin integration with the iPad. Some of my 2011 pipe-dreams would include TVs or amps that will bypass the need for an Apple TV and allow an iPad to be docked directly to the device. Or maybe an iPad/iOS menu ordering system that either gets docked to the table or sent wirelessly via an app. How about a treadmill or exercise device with a dock connector that taps into your favourite wellness and fitness app?

Imagine the possibilities.

2011 is going to be another great year for the iPad, but it’ll take more than just Apple to keep the momentum going. App developers will need to keep thinking big and pushing the limits of the device. Any big hopes for app innovations in 2011? Think big thoughts, because the sky is the limit this year.

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Posted under: App Store