Despite all the sales, the breathless reaction amongst the blogosphere, and despite seeing an iPad everywhere, it seems, I think that for app developers the iPad opportunity can hardly be overstated. The numbers are so large, the potential so great, that it becomes difficult to not be encouraging. The iPad is on the cusp of becoming the new PC and today’s app developers are tomorrow’s software titans or media conglomerates. This is not simply – or at least not only – hyperbole.  When examining Apple’s iPad (and iTunes) numbers, the potential for apps, app developers, and app monetization is simply astounding.

On it’s quarterly earnings call last month, Apple further entice app developers:

  • Over 40 billion apps downloaded – with nearly 20 billion downloaded in 2012 alone
  • 500 million + active user accounts – with payment information on file, ready to download apps and other media
  • 775,000 apps on the App Store, with over 300,000 native to the iPad (and iPad Mini)
  • Apple’s App Store (and iTunes) are available in 155 countries

The iPad growth is similarly remarkable. In its latest report, market research firm Canalys noted that in Q4 2012, the iPad alone accounted for one in six of every PC shipped worldwide. Moreover, iPad sales are growing at a far faster level than traditional PCs. The insatiable demand for iPad Mini is largely responsible.

“Canalys estimates that the mini made up over half of Apple’s total pad shipments, with its attractive price point and compact design leading to significant cannibalization in the iPad range and wider PC market. Its success proves there is a clear demand for pads with smaller screens at a more affordable price.”

A Trail of Tears: iPad Competitors

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While other tablets are experiencing growth, including the Kindle and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, their numbers pale in comparison to iPad’s. The iPad numbers are not solely focused on quantity, however. User engagement, purchases, app downloads, ad click-throughs, browsing and nearly every statistic of interest to app developers favors the iPad.

iOS apps tend to experience greater download numbers, stickiness and greater monetization than Android apps, for example. Last month, on the occasion of the 40 billionth app download, Apple SVP Eddy Cue stated:

“Apple offers developers a wealth of resources and tools to help them make great apps, plus a robust ecosystem and marketplace which provide customers a safe and easy way to discover them. Apple also provides developers great ways to monetize apps including in-app purchase, subscriptions and advertising, and helps market and support developer efforts in the App Store and beyond. “

Monetization is obviously a key element for app developers to consider. This recent survey of click-through rates and eCPMs for iOS and Android apps sheds more light. Despite vastly more Android users than iOS users, Apple dominates even on the advertising front. While the numbers do not breakdown click-through rates between iPhone and iPad, for example, other data suggest that iPad users are highly engaged with their apps and content.

iPad sales and the eager embrace of iPads and apps by consumers are a tremendous opportunity. But it is also an opportunity for innovative app developers. iPads are rapidly invading not only the home, but multiple industries, job types, use cases and needs. We are now seeing iPads in schools, in healthcare settings, used by distribution facilities, for sales displays and more.  This creates a wealth of opportunities for all manner of app developers, regardless of specialty or interest. iOS app downloads are now at about 65 million per day. This is astounding. There is likely an eager buyer for your app no matter the field or area of interest.  In restaurants and retail, at the doctor’s office, wherever there are salesmen, in more and more areas of work, play, leisure, shopping and much more, iPads are invading that space – and with them, apps galore. Yes, there is a lot of hype about the “app economy”. But that should not mislead you into thinking it’s all hype. The iPad may indeed represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Do not shy away from taking your app idea to reality.

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