iPad apps to carry price premium for a long time: App developer

iPad apps are likely to be more expensive than their iPhone equivalents for some time

Third party applications for Apple's newly released iPad are likely to carry a price premium for a while, according to Australian iPad developer Keith Ahern.

Released in the US over the weekend, Apple has already sold 300,000 iPads and currently offers more than 1000 apps specifically made for the device. The iPad can run applications built for the iPhone, with the ability to run them at standard resolution or full screen. However, many have complained that iPhone apps look pixelated on the iPad's larger display.

While the list of apps made specifically for the iPad is growing, prices for them significantly outweighs the cost of equivalent iPhone apps.

Ahern's development company, mogeneration, developed Carter's Encyclopaedia of Health and Medicine, available for the iPad at release. Available for $US9.99 from the US App Store, it's initial price is in stark contrast to the $US0.99 ($AUD1.19) and even free apps the developer currently offers for the iPhone.

Similarly, the developer of Flight Control and Real Racing, Australian company Firemint, is charging significantly more for iPad equivalents of its iPhone apps.

Real Racing HD can be bought for $US9.99 (the original Real Racing is $US4.99), while Flight Control HD is available for $US4.99 (the original is currently set $US0.99). The iPad versions offer additional elements such as new maps and gameplay modes, as well as HD graphics which are better suited to the iPad's comparatively higher resolution.

A spokesperson for Firemint was not available for comment at time of writing, but Computerworld Australia was told the company would address some of the issues in future announcements.

The initial launch of the App Store on the iPhone saw many developers experimenting with different price points to see what would fit consumers best. As competition grew, app prices lowered.

"I think iPad-only apps will carry a premium for a while - possibly a long time," Ahern said in an email. However, Ahern said that universal apps - those that can be used on both the iPad and iPhone - will likely be available at the iPhone price point.

While iPad apps may drop in price over time, some developers aren't so keen.

Glasshouse Apps founder, Graham Clarke, developer of the Barista and Cellar apps for the iPhone, as well as the newly released The Early Edition iPad app, said that iPhone apps were "undervalued a lot of the time".

"iPad app prices could only be considered a premium if compared to iPhone app prices," he said.

Apple allows developers to combine both the iPad and iPhone versions of the app in a single package through the App Store, so users only have to buy the app once to use on both devices. However, many developers like Firemint have released the iPad versions as wholly separate apps, requiring users to buy separate versions of the application for the two platforms. This has also led to an influx of new apps with suffixes including "iPad", "for iPad" and "HD".

Ahern said mogeneration would consider packaging both versions for new apps in the future.

Both Glasshouse apps and mogeneration have seen growing sales of iPad-only apps, but both said figures weren't completely outside expectations.

Ahern said initial sales figures were glimpses" that will be backed by real numbers in the coming months.

Mogeneration expects further iPad sales pickups when the 3G version is released in the US at the end of the month, as well as high sales seasons like "back to school" and Christmas.

Both the 3G and Wi-Fi only versions of the iPad will be released in Australia at the end of the month.

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