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Behind Apple’s new iPads is a push to extend its software edge

by David Needle

October 22 2013

Apple exec Eddie Cue looks at one of the new special effects in updated version of Apple's Keynote presentation app
Apple exec Eddie Cue looks at one of the new special effects in updated version of Apple's Keynote presentation app

Tablet buyers will find plenty to like about the new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display released today. But the tech giant also made several significant software announcements. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave an update on how many tablet apps are in the App Store and was quick to jab competitors for not keeping up.

“There are now 475,000 custom apps for the iPad,” said Cook. “And these are not stretched out smartphone apps that the others have.”


That number is a huge  jump from earlier this year in June when Apple said there were 375,000 apps optimized for the iPad out of 900,000 total. Today Apple said there are now over a million iOS apps in total.

Cook then went on to emphasize that it’s not just quantity, but the quality of the apps, showing a video of iPads being used in a wide variety of ways, including by a mountain climber camped out on the side of a dizzyingly high mountain peak.

And while some researchers say Android tablets are catching up with the iPad in terms of sheer numbers, Cook says there’s a bigger story.

“Regardless of what you see or read, iPad is used more than any of the rest, not just by a little but by a lot more; more than 4 times all the other tablets put together,” he said. “This is how you know what makes a great product - people use it.”

On the app side, Apple is now going to do more to make sure more people use its own apps. Instead of charging for its iLife (creativity) and iWork (productivity) apps, Apple announced it’s going to make them free with any new iPad, iPhone or Mac purchase.

(For more iPad news, reviews and features, subscribe to the free TabTimes for iPad newsletter).

Will Microsoft respond?


That’s a shot across the bow against Microsoft which has yet to offer a version of Office on the iPad and bundles a version of Office on Windows tablets.

“Though the iPad news will generate the headlines, the changes to Apple's software licensing for Mac OS X, iLife and iWork is also important, not least for Microsoft,” said Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum in a note to clients.

“Microsoft generates 96% of its operating margins from operating system and productivity software licensing, and Apple is now teaching people to expect both of those things to be free.”

While Apple’s news won’t have an immediate impact on Microsoft’s business, Dawson says it will create further pressure on the software giant to reduce the price of its productivity software.

(Discover and compare over 5,000 business and enterprise tablet, mobile and web apps at the TabTimes Business and Enterprise App Store)

Apple exec Eddie Cue touted the benefits of Apple’s apps being available on iCloud including today’s announcement that collaboration features have been added to iWork for iCloud. 

“So now you can create your document on your iPad, edit it on your Mac and even collaborate with a friend stuck on a PC stuck on a PC,” said Cue.

There was no mention of Google which also offers a suite of free apps, but Cue was happy to tweak Microsoft noting, that “others would have you spend a fortune every year just to get their apps,” he said just as a screen showing Microsoft’s Office 365 for $99 / year appeared. 

David Needle is Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley
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