Apple issued the Golden Master Seed version of its iPhone OS 3.2 SDK March 29, ahead of the April 3 release of its iPad tablet PC. The release allows anyone registered with company's iPhone Developer Program to build mobile applications for the iPad with more finalized tools.
Members of the iPhone Developer Program pay for presumably just this sort of access, to the tune of $99 per year.
Resources for the iPhone OS 3.2 GM Seed seem to have remained largely unchanged from beta versions of the platform, including an iPhone Reference Library, Sample Code, iPad Programming Guide and Human Interface Guidelines. Blogs such as Engadget are already parsing the build to see if any radical alterations exist from those previous versions.
Apple claims that some 150,000 apps will be available for the iPad's launch, with outside analysts suggesting that Apple's App Store could contain as many as 300,000 apps for the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod Touch by the end of 2010.
Analytics firm Flurry has reported a 185 percent uptick in the number of new application starts for the iPhone OS over the past few weeks. "We continue to attribute this growth to excitement generated by the impending launch of the iPad," Peter Farago, vice president of marketing for Flurry, wrote in a March 15 posting on the company's official blog. "A large portion of the applications we are seeing are custom versions of existing applications tailored for the iPad."
The iPad has the potential to become a huge hit, with Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty estimating between 8 million and 10 million units shipped in 2010. In a recent research note, Huberty also noted that the iPad could target the $800-and-under notebook market, a sentiment that if taken at face value could give competitors for that segment a bit of pause.
"Near-term, we believe the iPad will target the sizable sub-$800 consumer notebook market, which equates to 30 million units in the U.S. and 120 million units globally," Huberty wrote. The addition of TV shows, ebooks and other content especially tailored for the device could further increase its consumer appeal.
The 16GB version of the iPad sells for $499 with WiFi and $629 with WiFi and 3G. The 32GB version costs $599 with WiFi and $729 with WiFi and 3G, and the 64GB version costs $699 with WiFi and $829 with WiFi and 3G.
Meanwhile, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak apparently sees the iPad as a device ideal for very specific market segments.
"The iPad could lower the cost of acquiring computers for students. I think it's going to be huge in the education market," Wozniak told Newsweek's Daniel Lyons-who also blogs as Fake Steve Jobs-on March 26. "Think about students going off to college. They want an Apple product, but their parents don't want to spend that much. Now they have the ideal thing. They can go to college and someone may have a whacked-out $6,000 laptop, but the guy with the iPad will get all the attention."
Other target audiences for the device, according to Wozniak, include those who want simple computing-and he plans to buy three: "I've ordered one for a friend. Then I ordered two for myself. One with WiFi and one with the 3G."
Given Wozniak's history with Apple, the much-publicized "two iPads per customer" rule will hopefully be waived.