Apple’s App Store launched in 2008 for iPhone users to find and download apps. It has provided consumers with a great opportunity to personalize their mobile device experience, while launching a new economy where individual developers and larger companies can promote and sell their apps and services. The App Store has changed how software is purchased and distributed — and as a result, has led to a defining transition in personal computing.
With a marketplace for apps, the iPhone (and later all smartphones) were provided with the ability to take on a wide variety of features and functions that are almost commonplace today. The App Store was a simple software storefront that changed the iPhone experience, and has fundamentally change the nature of software and distribution.
“Software distribution was absolutely primitive before the App Store,” app developer Phill Ryu told Wired. “It deserves just as much credit as the original iPhone hardware and iOS in defining our modern smartphone experience.”
The App Store also changed the value of apps. Users can easily download apps for free, or at a minimal cost, giving smartphone owners the chance to evaluate an app themselves.
Within five years, many other platforms, wireless providers, and services have launched their own versions of an app marketplace, such as Google Play, the Verizon App Store and the Amazon App Store. In 2011, Apple released the Mac App Store for desktop computers selling full software via download only, and Microsoft would later follow with its app store for Windows.
There are now 900,000 apps in the App Store, according to VentureBeat. “The explosive popularity of apps has made them more relevant and valuable than they have ever been to the average person’s life, while simultaneously driving prices down to the floor,” Ryu says.
Yet with all these options, finding the app a consumer wants is not always easy. The number of apps crowds out others, effectively burying them down the list, leaving the consumer to hunt for what they want.