Z2Live CEO David Bluhm on Game Community’s “Overwhelming Disappointment” in Apple iPad

2/2/10Follow @gthuang

The honeymoon is over for Apple. Although it has been quite fashionable to bash the iPad tablet device announced last week, it did seem like a promising platform for gaming and other entertainment apps—at least to an outside observer.

Now the truth comes out. Last week, the local gaming and iPhone app developer community gathered at a meeting hosted by Madrona Venture Group and Z2Live, an intriguing mobile social gaming startup in Seattle. (Z2Live has raised $4 million from Madrona to develop and commercialize a multiplayer software platform for social and casual gaming on mobile devices like the iPhone.) The goal of the meeting was to share business tips and information about the marketplace, and to network. Inevitably, the topic of iPad opportunities came up.

I pinged David Bluhm, the CEO and co-founder of Z2Live (and former Medio Systems co-founder), to ask if he could sum up what the developer community is saying about the iPad. For Z2Live, at least, it sounds like the device is a welcome addition to Apple’s stable. But to most game and app developers, it sounds like the iPad is too big to be easily portable, and for its size, it needs more capabilities. We’ll see how Apple adjusts to the feedback.

Here are the specifics from Z2Live’s Bluhm:

“Inside our community of game and application developers, there is overwhelming disappointment over Apple’s recent iPad reveal (remember, we all live far afield of the Apple partner spin zone). Generally, we expected something more capable with such a large form factor—or a smaller, more nimble device. The big sound bite we have heard was that it is simply a really big iPhone…but not a phone. Most are skeptical that it replaces a good netbook, let alone someone’s laptop computer (as good laptops can be had for under $500).

On the other hand, if it was smaller, then it would comfortably replace both a netbook and an ebook reader with one cool device. I completely agree with this view. The iPad takes two hands to hold—it is something that must first be stabilized on a flat surface to use for any purpose. It cannot be easily dropped into a large purse or [knapsack] so it must be considered a ‘primary’ device.”

Bluhm continues: “The other primary negatives with the current iPad are:

Lack of multiplayer
Droid’s ability for apps to invoke other apps and offering a robust multitasking environment has piqued creativity…and expectations. While the argument for longer, dependable battery life and responsible task management is solid. Apple is right, of course, as independent developers will never be responsible power misers nor will they ever stop to consider management of their tasks against the tasks of any other resident software. The iPad, however, is not a phone. It is a browsing and email device.

No built in camera
A small and likely temporary situation. The available dock/stand seems to reinforce the need for a teleconferencing camera.

No iPad AppStore
Essentially, any new app must compete with 150,000 other apps built for the iPhone or iPod touch. Apple seems to feel that most iPhone apps would make good iPad apps when in reality there is much more to change than the resolution of your graphics. The iPad screen for instance, can handle ten different unique touch inputs which, I would imagine, will expose some very creative uses. I see this also as temporary as Apple evolves their merchandising and discovers the uniqueness of iPad apps.”

Bluhm concludes: “For our purposes, the iPad is another targetable device capable of delivering an even more immersive game experience and therefore, it is a welcomed addition to our iPhone and iPod touch opportunity.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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