Y Combinator To Startups: "We think the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer"

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Last August, we wrote about Y Combinator’s latest idea: RFS, or, Requests for Startups. Basically, this allows the incubator to lead entrepreneurs in a certain direction based on trends they think will be hot. Y Combinator then selects the best ideas based around these guidelines to fund. The latest RFS (number 6), throws down a gauntlet, of sorts.

We think the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer.”

Okay, yes, that’s slightly taken out of context — but it’s still one hell of a way to rile up developers. And to light a fire under some would-be entrepreneur fanboys. Here’s the full statement around the sentence:

Most people think the important thing about the iPad is its form factor: that it’s fundamentally a tablet computer. We think Apple has bigger ambitions. We think the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer. Or more precisely, a Windows transcender. We think Apple foresees a future in which the iPad is the default way people do what they now do with computers (and some other new things).

Following the iPad’s unveiling in January, people seem fairly evenly split about whether the device will be a failure, or the next big thing (I’m on the record as saying I think it will take some time to catch on, but then will quickly rise in popularity towards the future of computing). This is a smart bet for Y Combinator (and the startups that apply for this RFS) to make. If they’re right, and this is the future of computing, these startups getting to work around the time of the iPad launch (it’s still set to ship at the end of this month) should be well positioned to fully take advantage of the device.

And Y Combinator is thinking big for these startups too. It would be easy to tell companies to make apps for the iPad that are basically ports of current mobile apps, but the RFS points to this post by Facebook’s (and FriendFeed co-founder, and Gmail creator) Paul Buchheit, noting the future iPad applications may be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

Something else that is interesting to Y Combinator is how you get this new device in the door in businesses. They seem to think you’ll have to trick your company’s IT department:

One particularly interesting subproblem is how to introduce iPads into big companies. This will probably have to be done by stealth initially, as happened with microcomputers. They’ll have to be introduced as something individuals use, and which doesn’t really count as a computer and thus can’t be vetoed by the IT department. Don’t worry about this; it’s just a little tablet computer.

Just as iPhone app development has exploded, and Android developers are finally starting to see some real money, iPad developers are already in demand. Windows-killer or not, this is certainly an area to watch for the foreseeable future.

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