Will the iPad 3's Retina Apps Be Too Big for 3G Downloads?

Over at TheNextWeb, Matthew Panzarino argues that because expected resolution bump of the iPad 3 display would make app file sizes much larger, the App Store full of iPad apps larger than 20 megabytes which can't be downloaded over a 3G connection. Honestly, however, it's too soon to declare anything a problem.

Here's Panzarino's analysis on the matter:

Due to the sizes of the images, apps that use custom graphics could double in size, pushing many that are just under Apple's 20MB download limit for 3G connections right over the top.

To give you an idea, we asked Bjango's Marc Edwards about how the new Retina graphics would affect the size of one of its latest apps, Consume. He gave us these statistics regarding the app's packages:

iPhone (Retina and non-Retina), iPad (non-Retina) = 18.3MB
iPhone (Retina and non-Retina), iPad (Retina and non-Retina) = ~35MB

It's a valid argument, but we still must consider that nothing has been announced yet. There are simply too many unknown variables to know what's going to happen the App Store and/or the iPad's wireless connections. A benefit of governing ones own app ecosystem is that Apple can change their policies on a whim. Provided they haven't overlooked this issue entirely, there's nothing stopping them from altering the download policy the day the iPad 3 is announced and new tools are seeded to developers.

Secondly, we still don't know what sort of cellular radio the iPad 3 will have. The limit is in place to limit the length of time the 3G connection is ratcheted up and draining battery. If the iPad 3 has a faster 4G connection, it can download more data in the same time span while using a similar amount of power, which means that upping the data limit might not be a problem as far as its affect on battery life goes.

And finally, even if a worst case scenario were to happen. How many people would be profoundly affected? We use our iPads differently than our phones. They are connected to wi-fi a lot of the time. Panzarino is right to argue that it could mess up the iPhone/iPad universal build distribution model, and annoy phone owners. But how often would we need to download a humongoid app that couldn't wait until we had a connection? Once a year? Sure it would suck, but this also isn't quite a doomsday situation. And as MacRumors' Arnold Kim points out, the top iPad app in the app store is already over the 20 megabyte limit. [TheNextWeb]