The upcoming release of Apple's iPad tablet PC may be linked to a spike in third-party developers building apps for the iPhone OS, according to mobile analytics company Flurry, even as Apple and Google continue to mirror each other with regard to user retention, session frequency and session lengths for their respective iPhone and Android applications.
"Retention curves between aggregated iPhone and Android applications were nearly identical," Peter Farago, vice president of marketing for Flurry, wrote in a Feb. 12 posting on the company's official blog. "We believe the underlying reasons include the fact that Android handsets are capturing a more mainstream audience similar to the iPhone and that Android handsets have improved relative to the iPhone handset."
However, Apple's introduction of the iPad in a high-profile presentation Jan. 27 might have had a substantial effect on the development game, at least in the near term:
"Developers integrating Flurry analytics into iPhone OS applications in January increased by nearly three times over December," Farago wrote. "This represents the single largest spike in Flurry history, with over 1,600 new iPhone OS application starts for January." Historically, such surges come in conjunction with new device releases, leading Flurry to believe that "excitement generated by Apple's iPad event in January is driving this growth."
In turn, that has given Apple something of an advantage on the third-party development side: "While Android's steady new application growth over the second half of 2009 closed the gap against the iPhone, reaching as many as one out of every three new application starts within Flurry for December, the recent spike in Apple iPad support has swung the pendulum back in Apple's favor."
Furthermore, Flurry interprets this iPad spike as "a positive early indicator for its commercial potential."
Apple has been encouraging developers to download the new iPhone SDK 3.2 beta in order to create programs for the iPad, with the company predicting that some 140,000 applications will be available upon the device's release sometime in the next two months. The SDK includes an iPad Programming Guide, iPad Human Interface Guidelines and iPad Sample Code, all of which can be leveraged toward building applications for gaming, music, video, e-readers and productivity.
Applications such as iWork have supposedly been redesigned to work optimally with the iPad's touch screen and form factor.
The iPad will include a 9.7-inch LED backlit multitouch display with IPS technology, capable of delivering 1,024-by-768 resolution. The device is relatively sleek, with five external mechanical buttons, and weighs either 1.5 pounds for a Wi-Fi model or 1.6 pounds for a version that includes both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. It also runs on a 1GHz Apple A4 proprietary processor, and Apple claims 10 hours of charge on the built-in 25Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer battery.
Apple has also been negotiating with a variety of publishers and media outlets for content deals. On Feb. 10, the Financial Times reported that Apple had been apparently successful in its negotiations with an unnamed number of television studios to offer shows through the iTunes store for a dollar apiece. Meanwhile, a virtual teardown of the iPad by research company iSuppli found that the device could generate substantial profits for Apple, especially the midrange 32GB iPad with a 3G connection, which costs $287.15 to build and retails for $729.