If you're thinking about waiting: don't. Apple states that "[o]nly apps submitted for the initial review will be considered for the grand opening of the iPad App Store." An Apple spokesman further confirmed that "[W]e are looking forward to having an amazing line up of apps available when the iPad ships on April 3." The iPad App Store will launch at the same time as the iPad device.
Developers have expressed both excitement and concern about this development. iPhone developer Scott Lawrence told TUAW "I think it's pretty risky, knowing how 'accurate' the simulator is with respect to actual iPhone performance." Most developers insist on testing not only on hardware but on a wide range of models and firmware installations before an app is generally released. From software compatibility to hardware, the simulator approximates but does not equal actual device performance.
As I have written elsewhere, the simulator uses many Macintosh frameworks and libraries, offering features that are not actually present on the iPhone. Applications that appear to be completely operational and fully debugged on the simulator may flake out or crash on the device itself. You simply cannot fully debug any program solely by using the simulator and be assured that the software will run bug-free on the iPhone. Here at TUAW central, we're assuming (or at least hoping) that Apple will be testing device builds on real devices.
iPhone developer Greg Hartstein points out, "I'm not sure Apple really had a choice. Even with a store of 150,000 iPhone apps, Apple knows that new users are going to want to see what the iPad can really do rather than simply use their iPhone apps larger." With our impatient culture, it's make or break for the iPad. Apple needs to put its best face forward and get the most exciting apps it can out there for its new iPad community, despite access limits to early development units.
As one of our commenters writes, "Let the farts begin!"