This week is a milestone for Apple as it celebrates 10 years of the App Store. On July 10, 2008, Apple launched its App Store, changing the landscape of the mobile industry as we know it today.
If one were to look back over the decade, it is impossible to imagine a world without apps. Did we really call cabs off the street or over the phone instead of a touch of a button via Uber? Did we really save restaurant take-out menus to decide what the weekend binge should be, rather than just reading the reviews and online menus over Yelp or Zomato? It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?
The launch of the iOS App Store is what Apple calls as a moment that “ignited a cultural, social and economic phenomenon that changed how people work, play, meet, travel” and do so much more.
We take a look at 5 ways in which the App Store changed the world around us:
1. A New Culture in Mobile
Until the App Store, most mobile phones came with pre-set features and the most one could customize was the ringtone. The first iPhone came with just 12 built-in apps to start with, but with the launch of the App Store, Apple created a place that boosted the app economy for developers of all sizes from all over the world. The mobile suddenly became more than just a calling device. In the first weekend since its launch, there were 10 million app downloads, with developers creating a wide array of innovative mobile apps ranging from games to location-based social networking. And while the rush might not be the same now, in its 10th-anniversary address, Apple said that customers in 155 countries visit the App Store and they are staying longer and downloading and using “more apps than ever before.”
2. The Beginning of the App Economy
(Image Source: Apple)
Think of all the things that came into being since the apps boomed on our smartphones. “App Economy” is a term that we use widely today, but to look at the emergence of the App Store one can understand what the true origins of what an app economy means. In the 10 years of the App Store, Apple claims there are over 1.5 billion U.S. jobs that have been “created and are supported” by the App Store.
What’s interesting to note, however, is that in comparison to the desktop/website space, where the average age of the top global websites is 18 years old, the average age of the top apps is five years. 60% of users download an average of zero apps per month, indicating that the apps users heavily user are the apps that will most likely be continued to be used heavily and that once the economy has been set there’s no more disruption.
3. “I Am an App Developer”
The rise of the app economy also meant that opportunities started to flow in for independent app developers, startups as well as big studios. The App Store opened doors to innovators that had a great idea to build a high-quality app and reach the users across the world. Since the launch of the App Store, Apple claims that the developers in the U.S. alone have earned over $16 billion in App Store sales worldwide.
Apple’s "Everyone Can Code" program, launched in 2016, encourages new-age developers to learn to write code for problem-solving and creating apps.
4. Third-Party Apps and Software Innovation
Before 2008, the software industry was dominated by a few big corporates. But with Apple’s decision to allow third-party apps (which, mind you almost didn’t happen because of Steve Jobs’ resistance to the idea) opportunities opened up for software developers. After an initial backlash from developers, Apple announced the availability of an SDK for developers, which was launched in March 2008.
Apple’s App Store changed the way we understand the concept of a software, making it simpler to consume than its predecessors at Windows, for instance: “The App Store helped transform software from something to be researched and agonized over into something to be consumed casually and effortlessly on a massive scale,” notes Engadget.
5. The Freemium Economy and the Era of App Advertising
Apple promoted the freemium business model where the users pay nothing to download the app. By 2009, Apple started offering optional in-app purchases to use premium features or access additional content. By 2016, Apple was supporting subscription apps and as of June 2018, subscriptions were up 95% from the last year.
As users were discovering apps on the App Store, the question of discoverability was also starting to come in and people started talking about phrases such as “ASO,” App Store marketing, and in-app advertising. Creating an app and publishing it wasn’t enough: developers needed to make sure to reach the users as the App Store exploded with the apps that were being pushed. With every new iOS update, app developers were curious to see how that would change the way they reach out to the users. Almost a decade later, we are talking about Apple’s Search Ads, perhaps one of the biggest changes to improving the discovery of mobile apps on the App Store.
Mobile advertising’s origin can be traced back thanks to the App Store!
Summing it Up: “There’s an App for That”
The App Store set the ball rolling for the various innovations that we are witnessing today, whether in the way we consume apps or in the way companies reach out to their users. What lies ahead is going to be exciting as we witness the growth of AR/VR, but for now, we can leave our readers with the tweet from Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, that sums it all: “Ten years ago, the App Store started a revolution that has changed our world. For hundreds of millions of people, in ways too many to count, life is better because “There’s an app for that!
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