June 26, 2008: Apple sends an email to developers, stating that it’s accepting applications for its forthcoming App Store.
The news is greeted with excitement from devs around the world, as they hurry to submit their apps and get in on the looming App Store gold rush. Many rake in small fortunes when the App Store goes live less than a month later.
It very nearly didn’t ‘app-en
The news that Apple was going to be accepting apps to sell in its very own App Store was met with great excitement. It was formally announced March 6, 2008, when Apple released its iPhone SDK, giving devs the tools to start building native apps for the iPhone.
Inside Apple, the decision to take this step was hotly contested. Steve Jobs initially opposed to the App Store, since he worried it would result in the iPhone being flooded with low-grade third-party software over which the company would have very little control.
Phil Schiller and Apple board member Art Levinson were the main lobbyists who persuaded Jobs to change his mind — and make the iPhone a generative platform rather than a locked-down one.
It was a great move for Apple. Instead of having to rely on one or two “killer apps” that would make the iPhone a must-have device, as tools like VisiCalc had done for the Apple II, an open App Store meant that every iPhone could have its own killer app.
Applications for the iPhone had to be built on Macs, running a new version of Xcode. Apple provided software that allowed developers to design iPhone-friendly interfaces, monitor iPhone memory usage, and even simulate the iPhone’s touch-based interactions on their Macs.
The starting pistol for the App Store gold rush
On June 26, Apple fired its starting pistol by announcing that it was now accepting apps for scrutiny. The email sent to devs who had paid the $99 annual fee read:
“Get started by downloading the eighth beta version of the iPhone OS, available in the iPhone Dev Center. With this new version of iPhone OS you can conduct final testing and prepare your application for submission to the App Store. Apple is expected to launch the final iPhone 2.0 Firmware and App Store on July 11th alongside the iPhone 3G release. Developers may submit their applications now for availability in the App Store. Apple must approve all applications that are submitted.”
Meeting some of Apple’s more arbitrary respectability guidelines is something many developers took a long time to get to grips with. For those who did, however, rewards were generous.
By the time the App Store opened in June 2008, 500 third-party apps were available, with 25 percent of them being free to download. Within the App Store’s first 72 hours of opening, these had been downloaded a massive 10 million times. The App Store opened up a whole new way of distributing software — and a lucrative new revenue stream for Apple.
No wonder co-founder Steve Wozniak has called the App Store Apple’s most important invention — which, for a company that made the Apple II, Mac, iPod, iPhone and far more, is high praise indeed.
Were you among the first wave of App Store developers? What was the first app you remember downloading? Leave your comments below.