Commentary

Conference Business Catches iPad Fever

iPadsThe iPad may be the first consumer tech device to have a dedicated conference advertised before even hitting stores. Engage Digital Media has announced the iPad Game Summit on June 28 in San Francisco, which promises to feature "prime examples of what's working and why, best monetization practices, and iPad owner demographics."

That's assuming enough people are playing games on the Apple tablet to have anything worthwhile to talk about just three months after launch. What if they gave a conference and nobody came?

The upcoming event is the latest sign of the feverish anticipation surrounding the iPad, set to debut Saturday. Apple has already run out of stock for pre-ordered units and lines outside the company's retail stores are sure to start queuing up Friday night. Games have been viewed as one of the killer apps for the iPad as they've been for the iPhone and iPod touch.

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In a promotional email, Engage Digital Media twice refers to a recent report by mobile analytics firm Flurry indicating that $500 million worth of games were sold through the App Store in 2009, up from $115 million the prior year. Maybe the study itself is where the idea for the conference came from in the first place?

Starting with games, it's not hard to imagine the iPad spawning its own conference business across different segments. Brightcove's announcement today that it will support HTML5 video for the iPad (which doesn't support Flash ) could be the spark for a conference focused on video and the iPad. For the publishing industry, there could be a confab geared to the iPad as an e-reader, and another for the mobile crowd on whether its truly a mobile device at all.

Then, of course, prepare for additional events for iPad developers and advertisers. The possibilities are as endless as the hopes and ambitions projected onto the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. And even if it doesn't turn out to be quite the Jesus tablet prophesied, there will still be a need for post-mortem gatherings with titles like, "The iPad: What Went Wrong?" and "The iPad: Get Ready For the Relaunch."

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