We suspected as much, but Apple’s just proved its iPad applications will be data monsters by upping the over-the-air 3G app download limit from 10MB to 20MB. Users and developers win, but is AT&T panicking?
Applications written for the iPad were always likely to require more storage space than typical iPhone apps, partly because of the larger screen, which demands bigger and more complex graphics. But the iPad itself, by virtue of having a significantly more powerful processor inside and a larger form factor, enables far more sophisticated software–like the iPad-tweaked multitouch versions of the iWorks suite.
The larger average size of the apps posed an immediate problem for the whole App Store ecosystem however, since many users download apps while mobile and out of the range of a Wi-fi network. Apple’s size limit was set at 10MB to buffer cell-phone networks from massive traffic moving to iPhones. Clearly many iPad apps would have surpassed this limit, which would quite possibly impact on app sales (often a spontaneous purchase, given their low cost). So Apple’s just raised the barrier to 20MB. It’s confirmation that apps will be more complex than iPhone apps and that the utility of the iPad itself will probably be much higher.
IPad app developers (and iPhone app writers, too) can expect a small sales uptick as mobile users are now able to buy many of the larger apps during the times they’re most likely interacting with their mobile devices. The only group for whom the news will sound terrible is the cell phone networks. AT&T, in particular, with its reliability and reputation already tarnished in the largest U.S. cities, may well be very worried.