October 22, 2008: During an Apple conference call, Steve Jobs reveals that a user downloaded the 200 millionth app from the App Store that very day.
The news comes less than five months after the launch of the App Store, and only a month after Apple surpassed 100 million app downloads.
The opening of the iOS App Store
Opening the App Store marked a turning point both for the iPhone and for Apple as a whole. The company previously proved the viability of paid downloads five years before the App Store launched, courtesy of iTunes. By the time the App Store launched in 2008, iTunes was well on its way to becoming the world’s largest music vendor.
Thus an iTunes-like store for iPhone software offered massive potential. Suddenly, everyone could peddle their own “killer app” for Apple’s revolutionary smartphone.
Still, Jobs initially refused to go along with the App Store concept. He thought it would result in the iPhone being overrun by lesser-quality third-party software. Fortunately, he changed his mind.
By the time the App Store opened on July 10, 2008, 500 third-party apps were available, with 25% of them free to download. The App Store became an immediate success for Apple, garnering 10 million downloads in its first 72 hours.
The App Store: Apple’s most important invention?
While 200 million app downloads might seem like a big deal, it’s nothing compared to the App Store’s size today. In October 2008, the App Store offered around 4,000 apps. Today, the App Store catalog approaches 5 million, according to Statista. The total number of downloads to date exceeds 180 billion.
Along the way, Apple generated more than $70 billion for developers (and more than $30 billion for itself) with the App Store. It also transformed the way software gets sold (and the way smartphones get used) — and attracted the attention of antitrust regulators in the United States and around the world.
The App Store “continued its track record as an engine of economic growth and opportunity in 2021, supporting more than 2.2 million jobs” in the United States, Apple said in a May 2022 press release.
The transformational nature of the App Store, and its incredible impact on the Apple ecosystem, cannot be ignored. It’s no wonder Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak calls the App Store the company’s most important invention of all time.
What was your first app download? Leave your comments below.