Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The App Store Turns 10

Apple (via Phil Schiller):

When Apple introduced the App Store on July 10, 2008 with 500 apps, it ignited a cultural, social and economic phenomenon that changed how people work, play, meet, travel and so much more. Over the past decade, the App Store has created a safe place for users of all ages to get the very best apps and a vibrant app economy for developers of all sizes, from all over the world, to thrive. Today, customers in 155 countries are visiting the App Store more often, staying longer and downloading and using more apps than ever before.

While there have been many notable moments since apps first came to iPhone and later iPad, the milestones and testimonials below reflect some of the most significant over the past 10 years — defining how the App Store democratized software distribution and transformed how we live every day.

Michael Steeber:

For the purpose of this piece, I’ve focused exclusively on notable visual changes to apps that were available to download on day one and are still receiving updates today.

dan seifert:

this image from @9to5mac is a fascinating study in the changes of app design over the past decade. there’s more information density in the 2008 Facebook app than in any one after it. And it shows FOUR TIMES as many posts in a 3.5" screen than the current app does on 5.8".

Stephen Hackett:

A Timeline of Changes

Steven Aquino:

Just as the App Store made existence possible for Twitter clients to text editors to games to fart apps and more, so too did it promise life for accessibility-centric apps designed to help the disabled.

John Voorhees:

The dramatic growth of the Store has had equally dramatic effects on developers trying to build businesses, requiring rapid evolution for their companies to survive. A short-term ‘gold rush,’ where it seemed like anyone could create an app and make money, gave way to fierce competition almost immediately, which led to questions of the sustainability of solo and small-team independent development businesses. Over time, however, the number of business models that are possible on the App Store has expanded, which holds the promise of opening new avenues for developers to build businesses.

Adam C. Engst:

So yes, the App Store has been successful. But it’s a just a store, and one that suffers from poor app discovery and high developer transaction fees. And how much of its success is due purely to the popularity of the iPhone and iPad? (It’s also fair to ask how much of the popularity of the iPhone was driven by the App Store.) Any hardware platform that sells hundreds of millions of devices and has a software development kit will end up with lots of apps. […] The only way to sell an iOS app outside the App Store or to distribute an app that doesn’t abide by Apple’s guidelines is through Cydia, which requires a jailbroken device.


Apple goes on to claim that “Before 2008, the software industry was dominated by a few large companies.” Obviously, before 2007, there was no iPhone, so this claim must be about desktop computers like the Mac, but it’s still patently untrue. Sure, Microsoft and Adobe were juggernauts back then (and still are), but there were lots of small developers, many of whom created innovative Mac software that we’ve covered in TidBITS for years.


Even more philosophically discomfiting has been watching how the App Store drove the prices—and thus perceived value—of software to essentially zero.

John Gruber:

My first App Store downloads

Lauren Goode:

Which app has changed your life the most in the past ten years?

James Thomson:

Ten Years of the App Store Developer

See also: Art Authority, Edovia, The Icon Factory, The Omni Group.

Update (2018-07-12): Ryan Christoffel:

After 10 years, Apple’s general approach to the App Store hasn’t changed. It’s still a walled garden, faithfully guarded by the company’s review team and guidelines. However, what’s allowed on the App Store has certainly grown and shifted as time has gone by. Some of that has been brought about by new technologies Apple introduced, while some of it has been won through hard-earned fights for functionality that benefits users and strengthens the platform we all love.

Update (2018-07-12): See also: AppStories.

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"The AR Revolution Awaits"

I'm starting to wonder whether AR is going to be Tim Cook's knowledge navigator.

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