If you haven’t heard yet, and you probably should have considering the Apple echo-chamber was in full effect yesterday, developers have decided that HD should be the designation that separates iPhone apps from iPad only apps. If it’s HD, it’s iPad only.

The HD kinda makes sense, if you can resign yourself to believe that 1024×768 is High Definition, unless HD really stands for Higher Definition, which may be an even more appropriate term, but I digress.

Didn’t we just finish fighting a DRM war where we, as a society, determined that forcing consumers to buy a song for my desktop, then buy it again for iPod was garbage? I think we did, and I’m pretty sure we won that battle. Doesn’t HD just mean buy this second version of our game for your iPad?

It kinda looks like it.

I worry that this makes it easier to charge people two, maybe three times for the same software package. How would you feel about that as a user?

Are HD apps differentiated from regular apps?

If developers want to do this right, they need to take a step back for a second and figure out if they want to port their iPhone app to the iPad, or seize the opportunity to add something new to the iPad version. If it’s the previous, some people are going to be awfully pissed, which is nothing new on the internet. But, people can be awfully vocal when they’re passionate about something.

Apple’s taken an interesting approach when it comes to using their software on two of your machines. For instance, you can run Final Cut Express on your iMac, and then use the same serial code for your MacBook. Works fine, but there’s a catch. You can’t use Final Cut Express on both the iMac and the MacBook at the same time. It’s the perfect solution, and a lot of people don’t mind the restrictions because it makes perfect sense.

If you’re trying to use both computers at the same time, there’s probably a good chance a second person is using the application, and if that’s the case, you should probably be paying for another license.

So, if HD apps turn out to be direct ports of iPhone apps, wouldn’t that be a step away from the traditional software license approach of letting a consumer use an app on all their personal machines?

Only time will tell.

The framework exists in the SDK to make universal apps, and support for universal apps is present, despite the “ghetto” approach. So, if developers start releasing ported copies of their app for the iPhone and iPad, don’t believe for a second that a universal application isn’t possible.

There is a financial incentive to release separate iPad and iPhone apps, and better pricing controls remains the key component for most developers. We can’t blame them, alternative revenue streams will certainly help fund the development of their applications, and that’s something we can get behind.

The developer we peppered with questions clearly gets it. He mentioned that there’s an opportunity to use the iPad to provide a different experience for the user, an experience that would be unique on the device, something new, something better. If most developers believe this, most consumers will have no problem paying for an iPad version of their favourite iPhone apps. Give me something new, and I’ll open up my wallet.

What’s better for the consumer?

The developer we interviewed was quick to note that developers developing separate apps for the iPhone and the iPad shouldn’t be directly porting their apps from one device to another. He certainly isn’t, and he hopes his compatriots aren’t either. Apple’s encouraging users to create new versions of their apps, and they’re hoping that developers will help differentiate the iPad from the iPhone. Our interviewee also pointed out that people also expect the first week to be a giant cash grab when the iPad apps are introduced into the AppStore. He warned about not gauging trends in the first week alone, and that we should let the AppStore stabilize itself before we start judging the quality of applications in the AppStore.

Final thoughts

I really hope that the HD editions of the apps that were leaked weren’t just ports of the iPhone versions, because if they were it’s going to set a serious precedent in the AppStore. As consumers, we want innovative, value filled applications and games, not direct ports from other sources, especially if we already paid for that application once on the iPhone. Blow our socks off, give us something new and exciting and we’ll gladly pay the 5, 10, or 15 dollar price tag you slap on the application, but if you give me more of the same, I’ll just keep using my iPhone apps instead.

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