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Will the iPad Bookshelves Be Sparsely Stocked?

Will the iPad Bookshelves Be Sparsely Stocked?

Whether the iPad will enjoy success anything like that of the iPod or the iPhone is the topic of a fair amount of speculation as launch date draws nearer. That may depend on what users really want to do with the device and how much content is available for them to do it. Read e-books? Use iPhone-type apps? Play games? All of the above? One thing that seems certain is that it will be less than iPhone fans are used to.

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
03/12/10 5:00 AM PT

There are rumors that Apple's iPad launch has already run into some rough patches that are uncharacteristic for the company, but how much substance is actually behind them? One frequently mentioned challenge is having a sufficiently impressive array of available content that's compatible with the device.

The company has reduced the number of top-level categories in its iBookstore from 35 -- the number it listed in February -- to perhaps as few as 20, according to Appslice. That isn't necessarily damning, but it could mean that Apple is consolidating some categories to avoid displaying any that would appear understocked with iPad offerings.

Without more details, it's impossible to say, but even if the number of iPad-compatible books were less, the difference might not matter to the typical user, said Frost & Sullivan analyst Todd Day.

It might bother serious e-book consumers, "but I don't think this group will be using the iPad as their primary e-reader -- at least not at the beginning," Day told MacNewsWorld. "I am going to assume there will still be plenty of books available for the iPad, and that even more will be available as more agreements with publishers are worked out over time."

What Does 'iPad-Ready' Mean?

There are other signs that iPad content may be less than robust, though. For instance, only 10 percent of the 130,000-plus apps currently available in the App Store have been designated as iPad-compatible, according to Appslice -- but that too is debatable.

"I am not sure I know what the definition of 'iPad-ready' is, to be frank," Rob Walch, host of Today in iPhone, told MacNewsWorld. "My understanding is that any app will run on the iPad."

In any case, there are still a few weeks before the iPad hits store shelves, Walch noted. "I think there will be a lot more content available for the iPad when it does launch."

One of the main advantages Apple's iPhone has over other smartphones is the availability of those tens of thousands of apps -- but consumers interested in purchasing an iPad might not expect such a wide selection.

The iPad's target audience is unlikely to be exactly the same as the iPhone's, noted Frost & Sullivan's Day.

Surely there will be overlap, but there will also be many novice or casual users who don't necessarily want all of the choice available on the App Store, he said.

To Each Their Own

"I really don't think users will be put off with fewer apps available to them," Day maintained, noting that a lot of apps for the iPhone won't apply to the iPad at all -- those that are phone-oriented, for example.

Also, it's likely that there will be new apps specifically for the iPad that wouldn't work well on the iPhone by launch time or soon after, he pointed out.

"I think games will be very successful on the iPad," he said.

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