History of the App Store
Articles,  Blog

History of the App Store

Hey guys it’s Greg with Apple Explained,
and as you can see from the title, History of the App Store won this week’s voting
poll. If you missed the poll and didn’t get to
vote, make sure you’re subscribed, that way the voting polls will show up right in
your activity feed. Now I’m glad this topic won because 2018
is the ten year anniversary of the App Store and that means if you’re in middle school
right now, you probably don’t remember what life was like before the app era. So let’s travel back to 2007, the year of
the original iPhone, and explore how people used their smartphones without an app store. Back then, when you purchased a smartphone,
whether it was a Blackberry, iPhone, or Nokia, you were stuck with the software included
on the phone. If you wanted to use Facebook, you had to
go through the smartphone’s web browser and get on Facebooks website. And because you were accessing the site on
a mobile device, you were served the mobile site version. And the problem with this was most mobile
sites were half-baked versions of the full website. So you typically didn’t have access to all
its features and functionality, and if you did manage to access the full desktop site
from a mobile device, it was slow, clumsy to navigate, and hard on your battery. So right away you can see the need for an
app store. But things always appear more obvious in retrospect
because Steve Jobs didn’t believe the iPhone needed an App Store, he favored the concept
of web apps. The reasons why he preferred this approach
is that web apps were inherently free, easy for developers to create and update, and didn’t
require the infrastructure and resources necessary to operate something like an app store. Jobs said, “The full Safari engine is inside
of iPhone. And so, you can write amazing Web 2.0 and
Ajax apps that look exactly and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone. And guess what? There’s no SDK that you need! You’ve got everything you need if you know
how to write apps using the most modern web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone
today.” Needless to say, not everyone agreed with
him. Apple board member Art Levinson favored the
app store approach and called Jobs six times to change his mind, saying, “Jobs at first
quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to
figure out all the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers.” And I think that was a very reasonable concern. After all, no one had ever made an app store
for such a large platform like iOS before. This disagreement created a divide within
Apple. Team web apps, and team app store. Those who supported an app store argued that
developers needed the ability to create native apps on iPhone since it came with so many
benefits. Great power management, offline access, optimized
performance, ease of use, monetization opportunities, and a reason for customers to choose iPhone
over its competitors. Needless to say, Jobs ended up getting his
way and at the 2007 WWDC, Apple announced that iPhone would run web apps. But the news fell flat. Developers were frustrated that they couldn’t
create native apps for iPhone like they’d been doing with the Mac. It also left very little room for developers
to monetize their web apps outside of ad revenue. And the features of their web apps would be
limited to the capabilities of Web 2.0 instead of having access to native APIs in an iPhone
Software Development Kit. This disappointment sent a clear message to
Jobs, and he responded later that year in an open letter that began, “Let me just
say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK
in developers hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third
party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications
for our users.” This change of heart was well received in
the tech community and customers became excited about the potential of native third party
apps. About five months later Apple released the
iPhone SDK to developers for a $99 annual fee. Developers praised the software development
kit since they could build and test apps quickly and had access to some of the same APIs Apple
used to build their apps. The kit also had an iPhone simulator to mimic
the look and feel of the device on the computer while developing. This kicked off an app-creation frenzy. Developers knew that being one of the first
apps offered on the App Store was a huge advantage, since the marketplace would quickly balloon
in size. Five months later Apple opened the App Store
to customers with 500 apps available. And in its first three days, users downloaded
over 10 million apps. The app store was a grand slam, and it was
just the beginning. At the end of 2008 the app store offered over
10,000 apps and Apple released the top ten paid and free apps of that year: The top ten
paid apps were Koi Pond, Texas Hold’em, Moto Chaser, Crash Bandicoot: Nitro Kart 3d,
Super Monkey Ball, Cro-Mag Rally, Enigmo, Pocket Guitar, Recorder, and iBeer. The top ten free apps were: Pandora Radio,
Facebook, Tap Tap Revenge, Shazam, Labyrinth Lite, Remote, Google Earth, Lightsaber Unleashed,
AIM, and Urbanspoon. If you were around for the release of the
app store you were probably just hit with a bit of nostalgia. In 2009 Apple ran an ad campaign with the
slogan “There’s an app for that” and the catchphrase found its way into pop culture
and was parodied several times over by YouTubers and television shows alike. The term “app” became so popular that
it was awarded the honor of being 2010’s “Word of the Year” by the American Dialect Society. The immediate success of the app store prompted
other smartphone companies to do the same on their platform. Google released their own store for android
called Google Play near the end of 2008, Microsoft opened its Windows Store in 2012 (later renamed
Microsoft Store,) and Amazon released their Amazon Appstore in 2011. Now Amazon’s store was the only one to share
the Appstore name with Apple, and this triggered a lawsuit. Now that may sound a bit petty, but Apple
had applied for a trademark on the term “App Store” in 2008, which was technically approved
in early 2011. Apple spokesperson Kristin (who-goot) Huguet
told Bloomberg that, “Apple’s fear is that by using the ‘App Store’ name, Amazon’s
offering will ‘confuse and mislead customers.’” But after making little progress on the lawsuit
after two years, Apple and Amazon called a truce. According to Apple, they didn’t need to
pursue legal action against Amazon anymore because consumers had spoken clearly in their
preference for the Apple App Store. The App Store received its first small update
in iOS 3 which introduced in-app purchases and push notifications for third party apps. Now, the release of in-app purchases will
probably go down as one of the most controversial features in App Store history. The announcement was huge for developers,
and led to a fundamental shift in the way applications were marketed and priced. Up until this point, developers of premium
applications faced a major problem: they had no way of offering a watered down version
of a premium application for free that users could pay to unlock if they liked what they
saw — a capability that was quite common on desktop software. This led to the creation of ‘Lite’ versions
of applications, which typically offered a reduced feature set, and required users to
buy an entirely new application to access its premium features, which obviously wasn’t
user friendly. With in-app purchases, this was no longer
a problem. Lite versions of applications were removed
entirely, and in its place premium apps were offered for free with feature restrictions. If users wanted access to all the features
down the road, they could easily purchase them from within the app. But there was a downside to this capability,
particularly with gaming apps. Instead of being used to unlock features,
in-app purchases were used to endlessly charge users in order to keep playing a game. You could download some great games for free,
but it may only be a demo. So in order to play the full game, you’d
have to pay. And to continue to play the game, or to unlock
new content, you’d have to pay again. This was a result of the new freemium pricing
strategy that plagued the majority of “free” gaming apps including Candy Crush, Clash of
Clans, and Farmville. Some users also felt that developers were
only releasing a portion of their game, and then charging users for the remaining gameplay,
rather than using in-app purchases to provide bonus content. But unfortunately Apple had no control over
how developers utilize in-app purchases, so the feature was and continues to be exploited
in order to maximize profit. In iOS 4 Apple tried to help developers monetize
their apps by introducing iAd. And this is where web apps snuck back into
iOS because when a user tapped on an iAd, it would fill the screen with a web app-based
interactive advertisement that could offer downloadable freebies like wallpapers, videos,
and even apps without requiring a trip to the App Store. And when a user tapped the exit button, the
ad would disappear from the screen and leave the user right where they left off. So throughout the entire process, you were
never taken out of the app. This was in contrast with other ads which
would rip users out of their app and take them to the web browser to display the advertising
content. After six years of activity, Apple quietly
discontinued the iAd App network in 2016 without any justification. In iOS 5 the App Store was integrated within
Game Center so users could easily find and buy new games. And the App Store also received a new downloads
section where you could see a list of apps you’d downloaded from any iOS device connected
to your account. The App Store got its first redesign in iOS
6 that included viewing app screenshots in full screen. Also, when you downloaded an app, it didn’t
redirect you to the home screen anymore, a helpful feature if you wanted to stay in the
app store to download multiple apps. In iOS 7 the App Store received many new capabilities
including a wish list, searching through previously downloaded apps, auto app updates, viewing
popular apps based on location, and new icon animations when downloading an app. And developers gain access to the new HealthKit
API in iOS 8 which allowed them to link apps to a central database of a users personal
health data, with the users permission. In iOS 10 developers could buy ad spots in
the App Store’s search results similar to what we see with google and Amazon. Apple also allowed developers to respond to
user reviews of their app. Finally, in iOS 11 the App Store received
its biggest redesign yet that was cleaner and more consistent with other apps like Apple
Music. It also had a bigger focus on editorial content
like daily highlights. This reorganization was meant to encourage
app discovery and help lesser known apps earn some time in the spotlight. Today, users spend more time on apps than
mobile search and the app revolution shows no signs of slowing down. The App Store offers over 2 million apps that
have been downloaded more than 130 billion times. And all of this success has added up to over
$70 billion in revenue for developers. But the worldwide popularity of the App Store
has caused some problems, especially in China. In 2017, the Chinese government requested
that Apple remove the The New York Times App from the China App Store. Most likely to block critical or revealing
information about their leadership. Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz said, “we have
been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations. As a result the app must be taken down off
the China app store. When this situation changes the app store
will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China.” Apple also began removing VPN apps in compliance
with new laws in China requiring a government license for businesses offering VPNs. Many criticized Apple for enabling China’s
aggressive censorship in order to maintain access to the lucrative Chinese market. Florida Senator Marco Rubio said, “Here’s
an example of a company, in my view, so desperate to have access to the Chinese marketplace
that they are willing to follow the laws of that country even if those laws run counter
to what those companies’ own standards are supposed to be.” But Tim Cook remained optimistic about the
situation, saying, “My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things
that’s been pulled, come back. I have great hope on that and great optimism
on that.” But what do you think? Is it okay that Tim Cook is bending to China’s
will, or is Apple just practicing standard business protocol by adhering to local laws? Let me know what you think. And if you want to vote for the next video
topic, don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *