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Well, that didn’t take long. Less than 24 hours after Steve Jobs announced an iPad that will support larger-resolution downloadable apps, UK regional development fund Northern Film & Media (NFM) is opening a fund with which it will specifically support iPad app developers.
NFM is setting aside £40,000 for the fund; applications close on February 24. That may not sound like much, but consider that the fund has been created for NFM by Ewan McIntosh, the former 4iP investment commissioner who helped Channel 4 launch an iPhone app fund that eventually helped finance AudioBoo, You Booze You Lose and MirrorMe apps.
And this may be about first-mover advantage. “There’s a good chance of apps we fund being stop of the iPad app store,” McIntosh told me. “This is about specifically highlighting iPad apps in what has become an overcrowded marketplace for iPhone apps. Even last year, newly-launched iPhone apps, whilst a good idea, have been struggling against the tide in the app store.”
Applications must come from developers based mostly in the north-east of England. The total funds on offer could reach £80,000 in cases of match-funding and could be larger, with NFM eyeing co-equity co-investments together with NorthStar Equity.
It’s fair to say that the iPad hasn’t saved all our media overnight – but it does extend the iPhone app opportunity, which is allowing some publishers to profit from iTunes’ billing platform, in to a realm where larger-screen apps may be attractive to some people.
It’s highly likely that newspaper publishers will augment their iPhone apps by offering a larger-version iPad equivalent. The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) has already done so, but Bauer Media’s consumer digital product manager David Williams told me: “The Developer kit has only just been released hasn’t it? Early days.”