Now it's finally March -- here comes the iPad. To prep for the big reveal, developers are scurrying to build and announce new apps and accessories for Apple's tablet computer. With so much shouting in a crowded room, it's easy to get lost in the buzz. Here are a few key aspects that may make a sizable splash.
Huge Increase in iPad App Development
Since the iPad's announcement, development of iPad apps has exploded. Analytics firm Flurry reported that the number of new App Store projects using Flurry analytics tripled from December, indicating a fiery fervor for development.
Magazine Publishing Joins the App Fray
E-reading will be huge on the iPad. Condé Nast, one of publishing's most imposing figures, announced that a handful of its popular magazines -- Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Glamour -- will be viewable on the iPad in new formats for the tablet. The announcement is expected to open the floodgates for other publishers.
The News Giant
In addition to magazines, developers clearly want the iPad to be a powerful portal for the news. The Associated Press announced its plans to develop an app today, with an interesting twist. The AP wants to charge users for the news as part of the organization's plans to generate revenue from online content; the New York Times has a similar plan. With so much free news on the Web, it's debatable whether users will drop subscription fees for premium content from the industry's most respected sources.
But there's a hitch. Since the iPad does not support Adobe Flash, many publishers are faced with a difficult decision: adapt to Apple standards or stick with Adobe.
Since all iPhone apps will function on the iPad, don't expect anything remotely kinky on the tablet or for Apple to shift its family-friendly stance for the iPad.
Wait, There's More
Big companies make big announcements, but it's the others you'll have to keep an eye on. Sourcebits, one of the iPhone's biggest app contributors, shifted half of its 150-strong development team to work on iPad apps.
You can also a ton of games from a variety of developers to reap the benefits of the 9.7-inch screen. Tech bloggers are already drafting wish lists for touchscreen entertainments. It's also interesting to keep note of iPhone app developers -- such as the creators of Chordica, a music-making app -- to join up with either similar products or brand-new releases.
The War for Ultimate e-Reader Status
The iPad's most important app is iBooks -- Apple's colorful e-reader and answer to Amazon's e-ink Kindle. Since iBooks was announced, there have been a multitude of scuffles, most notably a pricing war that caused major publishers to balk at Amazon's $9.99 price point. Apple's newfound influence on the e-book market could spell bad news for Amazon but a diversity of options for consumers.
What's a fragile Apple device without a slew of accessories? Apple has already unveiled a bunch, including a dock, external keyboard, cases, and camera connection kits.
Meanwhile, outside developers such as Belkin, Scosche, and Griffin -- all prolific iPod and iPhone accessory-makers -- are clamoring to push out new iPad products. From these companies we can expect more docks, more cases and more screen guards.
Some accessory-makers, like GelaSkins, need to wait to nab an iPad before releasing protective cases, but expect to do so within days of the tablet's release.
Sales Beget Sales
There's a lot of money to be made from the iPad, but it all depends on whether consumers actually make the purchase. It appears that the more we gab about the iPad, the less interested the public gets. But given the manic zeal typically associated with the release of new Apple products, expect the Apple Store to sell out and the queues to form.