10 years ago, Apple's App Store arrived in time for the release of the iPhone 3GS, and it drastically changed the way apps and games were sold on mobile devices. In fact, we'd argue that the App Store is the key element that really paved the way for the success of the iPhone and thus shepherded in the age of smartphones we currently enjoy.
Before the App Store, purchasing software online was a bit of a Wild West environment — and, in particular, discovering new applications and games for mobile devices like PDAs or proto-smartphones was a tedious and time-consuming exercise.
And when you did find something you were interested in, you’d have to hope the app maker had a secure storefront — and then jump through even more hoops to get it installed on your device.
The App Store was revolutionary because it streamlined the whole process, from app discovery to purchase and installation, with Apple's iTunes Store providing a ready-made template for digital purchases that the Cupertino company smartly leveraged.
10 years later, it's hard to imagine a world before the App Store. Aside from making daily tasks easier and providing iPhone and iPad owners with endless games and other forms of entertainment, it’s also allowed new business models to be created — without apps, there’d be no Uber, and media streaming services like Netflix have used apps to fuel their rapid growth and expasion into new markets.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Apple's App Store, then, we've put together a quick list of what we think are the platform's five of the most significant milestones.
1. The App Store is open
July 10, 2008 — In anticipation of the iPhone 3G’s launch the following day, Apple officially opens the iOS App Store, which features 500 apps available for download. Just three days later, the number of apps on offer has climbed to 800, and the total number of downloaded apps has already reached 10 million.
2. In-app purchases are born
June 17, 2009 — Apple rolls out iPhone OS 3.0 and with it, the App Store gets a new feature: in-app purchases (IAPs), giving app makers a new way to monetize their creations. Initially however, Apple’s policy limited in-app purchases to paid apps and games only – the late Steve Jobs apparently felt that customers shouldn’t be tricked into downloading something that seems free, but then actually requires payment. Four months later though, Apple changed its policy to allow IAPs in free apps and games, which helped kick off whole the ‘freemium’ revolution.
3. The age of the tablet has arrived
April 3, 2010 — The iPad arrives, and with it, Apple expands the App Store’s repertoire to include tablet-specific apps alongside what it calls ‘Universal’ apps, which are designed to work on both iPhone and iPad. Owners of the new tablet can initially choose from a range of 3,000 apps that are optimised for the bigger 9.7-inch device. The number of available iPad apps triples in the space of three months.
4. App Store arrives on watches and TVs
October, 2015 — Having successfully nurtured its app storefront on smartphones, tablets and Mac computers, the 2015 launches of Apple's highly-anticipated Apple Watch and revised Apple TV brings the App Store to wrists and living rooms around the world.
5. A decade later
July 10, 2018 — On the App Store’s 10th birthday, the number of apps on offer has climbed to reach over 2.2 million, which between them have been downloaded over 130 billion times. For their coding efforts, iOS app developers have made more than $100 billion in revenue selling their wares on the App Store platform.