iPad’s Early App Economy: Games Dominate, News Makes In-Roads

It’s four days after launch, so how is the nascent iPad app environment shaping up? The numbers are in. There are now 2,385 iPad-only apps, according to the first iPad report from Dutch app tracker Distimo

Awash with rehashed games: Perhaps surprisingly, 35 percent of iPad apps (833) are games – way ahead of entertainment (260) and education (205) apps in second and third place.

But iPad users aren’t so keen: While 56 percent of apps in iPhone’s Top Overall chart are games, only 32 percent of apps in iPad’s chart are games. It’s still by far the most popular app category amongst users, though.

Paid is more popular: At least with publishers. Pay-for apps take up 83 percent of the iPad store shelf space, compared with 73 percent on iPad. Average price for an iPad-only app is $3.61 compared with $3.55 for iPhone.

Not everything has a premium price: Education, entertainment, games, health, music, news, productivity, sports, travel and weather apps are all pricier on iPad than iPhone. But business, finance, medical, navigation, photography, reference and utility apps are all priced cheaper.

Devices show differentiation: There are more business, education, lifestyle, news and productivity apps toward the top of iPad’s chart than on iPhone’s. News apps make up six percent – “significantly more” than on iPhone’s chart – but entertainment apps lag iPhone’s. Book apps are performing quite poorly – but probably only due to the existence of iPad’s own iBooks.

It’s less than a week old, so we don’t yet know how different the tablet app economy will end up looking. Indeed, most iPad developers had not even touched the device before this weekend, and were merely writing apps through an upgrade to their existing iPhone software developers’ kit. This may account for what are broadly similar patterns between iPad and iPhone. Will the next generation set a different course for tablet apps, or have the early crop set the course?

See the charts here.