The Success of the iPad Will Come Down to App Development

Five days or so into my experience with the iPad and it continues to exceed expectations (by far). I’ve spent somewhere between $120 and $150 in the Apple iTunes App store, which compared to my previous purchases of apps (read: $0), means there is more cash flowing into Steve Jobs’ coffers. The overwhelming indication continues to be that the success of the iPad will come down to the applications that software companies develop for it. We bought our iPads for business purposes. As an Internet company, the easier we can access data, the better we can respond to customer needs.

Business Productivity on the iPad

The main benefit of the iPad is it allows us to monitor profits, costs, bills, and customer messages in real-time across all of our businesses. I can see, quite literally, sales flow into our sporting goods business or baby retailer as I sit on the balcony drinking coffee and listening to Coldplay’s Viva la Vida (which I’ve had on repeat all day). I can monitor our investment positions and submit complex options positions with a few clicks (er… taps). It has allowed me to get up from my desk and spend time elsewhere, greatly improving the quality of life.

If I’m already using the iPad to revolutionize our trading and investing positions, can you imagine when software companies develop high-end apps that allows medical records to be wirelessly access by doctors or nurses? What about lawyers that can access case law databases?

Books on the iPad

The Apple iBook store can be great. It’s just not there, yet. There isn’t nearly enough selection, especially when compared to the Amazon Kindle (which explains why I use the Kindle app and buy books from Amazon for the iPad). I should have the ability to print directly from the iPad any page I’ve noted, complete with my markups. Imagine what that would do for business productivity.

Games on the iPad

On the gaming front, there are a lot of things that could make the iPad a game changer. For example, if Square-Enix were to release the Final Fantasy games up through FFIX, I’d buy them in a heartbeat, no questions asked. If I can play Monopoly with my family members wireless over a network connection, regardless of physical distance, I’d be thrilled because it would be another way to spend time together.

Mistwalker Studios Might Just Eclipse Square Enix

For a long time, I wanted to be a video game programmer.  When I was still in elementary school, I saved up the $200 or so dollars for an entry-level version of Microsoft Visual Basic, went to trade shows to buy software on 5″+ floppy disks, and worked on creating my own version of the original Legend of Zelda in Microsoft Basic.  At some point, however, my obsession with finance overcame everything and the idea of sitting in a skyscraper, reading stock reports, and compounding money for the sheer joy of building something eclipsed the video game dream.  The reason was simple: I realized that if I achieved the empire on the financial side, I could someday just buy or establish a video game company.  If I became a low-level code monkey, on the other hand, I couldn’t have the other.  It was a case of having my cake and eating it, too.  Perhaps I should have known my idea of fun was spending hours playing Duck Tales on the original NES, shuffling Uncle Scrooge around the world to acquire treasure.

Looking back, Squaresoft, and later Square Enix after the merger, released a series of games including Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Kingdom Hearts that eclipses nearly ever other development house in terms of pure quality and fan obsession.  The only notable exception would be Nintendo, which owns the original hall-of-fame franchise covering Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Samus Aran of Metroid fame, Link and Zelda from The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong.  The problem with Square Enix is that it seems like the last unbelievable game that was released under its banner was Final Fantasy X.  That was nearly ten years ago.  I was in college.  That should put it in perspective.