The 'iPad Era' dawns

How a 'perfect storm' will make iPad the biggest cultural phenomenon since The Beatles

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In addition to thrilling existing types of users, I think the iPad will convert people. For example, I believe many people who have never embraced gaming will be converted into gamers by the iPad -- much like the Wii did, but on a much larger scale.

iPad just wants to have fun

A blog called PadGadget did some digging in the iTunes "Preview" database, which shows apps not shipping yet but coming soon. Many of these were clearly iPad applications, because they used designators like "HD" or "XL" to distinguish them from iPhone versions. Most of them were games. Here's a partial list:

  • Ammoin HD
  • Azkend HD
  • Flight Control HD
  • Grind HD
  • HD Recovery
  • Labyrinth 2 HD
  • NBA Hotshot HD
  • Numba HD
  • Plants vs. Zombie HD
  • Sparkle HD
  • Worms HD

(Since the blog was posted, the titles have all been removed.)

Big deal. There will be games on the iPad. We already knew that. What matters is that iPad is an incredibly appealing casual gaming platform -- a kind of portable, Internet-connected Wii that comes free with your tablet.

Some of the biggest runaway hits are likely to be connected games -- chess games played by people on other sides of the ocean. Multiplayer first-person shooters are going to be enormous.

And I think the iPad will be the first gaming platform where traditional board games will become a major category -- games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Battleship. I also expect it to mainstream Vegas-type games like Texas hold 'em, roulette, slot machines and so on.

That's important, because gaming is one area where iPad sales will enjoy something called the "network effect," which is when the value of a networked system increases as more people join the network. The more people who play connected games on iPad, the more valuable it is to users. The more valuable it is to users, the more game developers will create games for it. The more games there are, the more users. This cycle continues until iPad has millions of dedicated game fans and more games than any other platform.

Remember when Windows clobbered the Mac in part because all the games were on Windows? The reverse will be true on touch tablets. All the games will be on the iPad. Toss in remote, connected play and -- forget about it. The iPad will be the Mother of All Gaming Platforms.

The iPad goes to work

In addition to converting users, I believe the iPad will transform professions.

Education, for example, appears ready to aggressively embrace the iPad. (Any sort of school buying iPads in bulk, in "packs" of 10, will get a $20-per-device discount.)

The iPad is ideal for education because it will be easy to develop for, cheap to buy, easy to carry and store (no cables, peripherals and so on), and come with seemingly infinite content and media.

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