Have you ever recommended an app to a friend? How about an iBook? Last month, while on a field trip for my child’s class, I was talking to another parent about the many great possibilites for iBooks Author. In the process, she wanted to download something I recommended right then, onto her iPhone. However, we both soon discovered, while looking at her device, that she didn’t have iBooks installed. And she couldn’t install it until she got on a wifi network, since the app is over 30MB.
Before this, I knew that iBooks was an app I had to download onto my iPad, but I hadn’t really thought about how this simple fact might be creating a significant barrier to consumer adoption of iBooks. Why would Apple do this? I assume a decision this big wasn’t by chance. Consider the apps that do come pre-installed on every new iPad:
Safari Web Browser
I download lots of apps, so the effort it took me to go find the iBookstore app and download it was not a real impediment to discovery of iBooks for a ‘power user’ like myself. But for the mom I was talking to on this field trip, it might actually be enough of a barrier that many (if not most) users won’t ever download an iBook (or even realize they exist separately from apps). It’s like Apple has made iBooks invisible to consumers, while apps like NewsStand, YouTube, iTunes & GameCenter come pre-installed; they can’t be deleted even if the user doesn’t want to use them. But how is an app like NewsStand any different than iBooks?
Why would Apple do this? I honestly have no idea, but if the iBooks App was one of my girlfriends, I’d tell her to move on … this guy is clearly not into you. “Open your eyes, iBooks,” I would say, “when something like Notes comes pre-installed and you don’t, it’s not an accident.” Of course, iBooks can’t ‘leave’ Apple for another beau … so the analogy ends there, but I’d still love to know why 20 other apps warrant pre-installation but not iBooks … any ideas?