A regional development firm in the UK is the first to announce a development fund for the Apple iPad, offering up to £40,000 ($64,500) for iPad application ideas. The introduction of this fund comes less than 24 hours after Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs demoed the company's highly anticipated touchscreen tablet computer on stage at an event in San Francisco. Although this fund is limited to developers in the UK, there's little doubt that this firm will soon be one of many offering similar incentives to developers in order to encourage the creation of an entirely new ecosystem of applications tailored specifically for this unique handheld device.
According the statement released by NFM, the fund will aid developers throughout the process of building an iPad application from "sketches to finished product." More importantly, the company is looking to fund development efforts that are not just mere ports of iPhone applications, but rather take advantage of the new features the iPad has to offer. Notes the company, the apps should "do stuff better than it would be done on an iPhone, and differently from the way it would be done on a laptop or desktop machine." What "stuff" is that exactly? That's for developers to decide.
In order to qualify, apps also must have the potential to generate revenue, be ready to launch by summer 2010, be developed by teams where at least 70% of the talent is within the North East region where NFM is located, and not replicate the functionality of apps already designed for the iPad. That last stipulation was likely made because it could lead to the app's rejection from the iTunes App Store, as has been the case in the past with iPhone apps such as Google Voice, a VoIP application for making calls and receiving voicemail.
NFM also says that the development team requesting funding should have an investment of money from a private investor, either an equity firm or the company's own resources. Applications NFM selects for funding will receive anywhere from £1,000 to £10,000, depending on the app's potential as NFM sees it.
The iPad is set to launch worldwide in March, at least in the Wi-Fi version. 3G versions outside the US will take a bit longer with no solid dates available at this time.
So far, reactions to the iPad have been decidedly mixed among the tech press. Some have claimed the device is the future of computing while others state the iPad is a failure. Nevertheless, analysts are predicting Apple will sell 1 to 5 million iPads in its first year.
Developers, too, will be itching to create new applications for the device - at least according to Joe Hewitt, the man behind the iPhone version of Facebook. His application, which many say is an even better way to use the social network than the website itself, is a testament to how new platforms can enhance and transform applications from the boring Web 1.0 world of desktop computing to the Web 3.0 world of mobile devices. The iPad will only push this trend even further. Says Hewitt, "if you're a developer and you're not thinking about how your app could work better on the iPad and its descendants, you deserve to get left behind."
UK firms looking to be the forerunners in iPad development can fill out the application for funding here.