Monday, July 10, 2023

The App Store Turns 15

Phil Schiller:

Happy 15th Birthday App Store 🎂

Ken Case (Mastodon, podcast):

Fifteen years ago today, on Thursday, July 10, 2008, Apple launched the iPhone App Store. And we launched the first app we ever built which could fit in your pocket, OmniFocus for iPhone.


At its launch, there weren’t any mechanisms for free copies of paid apps: no promo codes, no TestFlight, no trials or in-app purchases. What to do? The next morning, we went to the local Apple Store, bought a bunch of iTunes gift cards matching the price of our app, scratched the backs of each one to get at their codes, and then emailed out all those codes to potential reviewers.

Craig Grannell:

Let’s (try to) crowdsource the names of the original iPhone App Store apps and games!

I’m writing a piece on the App Store turning 15, and I couldn’t find a list of the original ~500 App Store apps and games from 11 July 2008, which I thought was strange. @jamesthomson, whose PCalc was there from the start, suggested we might be able to crowdsource this, for posterity and future research.

Here’s the spreadsheet.

If you have info to add to it, please do. Please share!

See also: BasicAppleGuy.


Update (2023-07-13): Mike Rockwell:

But here we are, fifteen years later, and the App Store feels like more of a hindrance. A limitation on the platform that prevents entire categories of applications from even being developed.

Update (2023-10-25): Christina Warren:

Looking through my decade and a half of App Store purchases is like looking through a time capsule of the last era of tech, seeing all the fads, the booms, and the busts of the era. The first app I ever downloaded was the official Obama app. My other first-day apps included two different Twitter clients, the official Facebook app, an RSS client, and an $8 copy of Scrabble. Today, the Facebook app is still active and amazingly, that old version of Scrabble still works.

It’s also a remnant of a time that has largely passed. Because even as App Store revenues continue to grow each and every quarter, lining Apple’s pockets to the tune of tens of billions a year, our cultural reliance on mobile apps themselves has changed.


Yes, I have an app for my bank, but I’m just as likely to visit its website when trying to check my balance. Whereas I used to get excited about a new app on my iPhone, I now often resent being asked to download an app when I know that the website will work just as well and cause fewer disruptions or take up less space on my phone.


There is still a lot of money to make on mobile apps, but usually not just on the app itself. The most successful app developers today aren’t the same as they were 15 years ago, where a good novel idea could net millions of downloads overnight. Now, apps need to serve as part of an ongoing business and not necessarily be the business themselves.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Mike Rockwell nails it. Apple has utterly failed on all the reasons it originally gave to have total control - curation, quality, preventing malware and scams, innovation, making it easier for developers - all lies.

Apple's curation and insistence on subscriptions, is what IMHO has made the App Store a bad place for innovative apps.

It is almost impossible to gain organic traction on a new app, it requires you either have enough followers or enough money to buy customers.

Which is a far cry from Apple BC, where they would list new and updated apps, allowing customers to see what's new and customers to choose what succeeds and what doesn't.

Leave a Comment