The iPad hits tomorrow. iPad apps have already hit the App Store. Developers have several choices for iPad apps:
1. They can create “hybrid” apps, which sport custom, unique interfaces for iPhones and iPads, but exist as a single app.
2. They can create brand new iPad-friendly apps, separate from their original iPhone apps.
3. They can not create custom iPad apps at all, and let their iPhone apps live on the iPad at actual or double-size (a choice given the end-user).
The decision a developer makes has a big impact on you, the iPad-wielder who already owns an iPhone or iPod touch. That’s because if the developer picks Option #1, you automatically get the iPad-friendly version of your already-purchased app, at no extra charge. But if the developer goes with Option #2, you’ll need to pony up again (say, for Flight Control HD), even though you previously bought Flight Control.
I don’t begrudge developers like Firemint who go with Option #2. It’s not like a developer charging you anew to play the game on a laptop vs. a desktop; you’re getting a new version of the app all together, with a new layout optimized for the new screen, which took the developer new, additional time to create. In this way, it’s more like when you have to buy one copy of Madden 10 for your Wii, and another for your iPhone.
The App Store, unfortunately, provides no means for developers to offer discounts to buyers who already own the iPhone version of an app and want to buy the iPad version, too. This isn’t the same as an early adopter tax: I still want and will play Flight Control on my iPhone. I just want the iPad version too, and wish it could cost me a buck or two less than it would cost a brand new purchaser.
Obviously, for any of these Option #2 apps, we’re only taking about a couple bucks for the iPad app. (Although worth noting is that, for now at least, the average iPad app price is notably higher than the average iPhone app price.) But those couple bucks per app could add up to serious coin when spread across several dozen apps.
I don’t have a great solution here. I know that I want to cover Strategery’s developers in kisses, since I got the iPad-friendly version just by tapping the “Upgrade All” button. And I know equally well that developers have every right to charge us customers for truly new versions of their apps. I just wish Apple provided a way for developers to offer customers upgrade discounts — even a “Complete My Album”-esque approach to get the iPad versions of apps you already own.