What is the History of App Store ?


Just a month or two before the App Store turned twelve years old. And in that time it’s completely changed the way we think about mobile devices. I mean, I remember buying an iPod to listen to music, a cell phone to make calls and send texts, and a digital camera to take photos.  Every device essentially served one purpose and you were stuck carrying around all these separate products. But the App Store in 2008 changed all of that. Suddenly you had this magical piece of glass called an iPhone that could be transformed into just about anything.

So in this blog, I’m going to go through the App Store’s history and point out some of its biggest changes and milestones, so you get an idea of how it’s evolved over the past twelve years. This is Greg with Apple Explained and I want to thank Raid for sponsoring this blog. Now the early days of the App Store were simpler times. 

There were no subscriptions,  no in-app purchases, and no virtual currencies. There were just free apps and paid apps. That’s it. And once you paid for an app, you got everything it offered,  including free updates from the developer. Now maybe my nostalgia is impairing my judgment,  but I really think this was the golden age of the App Store. Developers were creating incredibly high-quality games, productivity apps, and even free apps that behaved exactly as advertised. 

Some of the most popular paid apps of this era were Koi Pond, Texas Hold’Em, Super Monkey Ball,  Cro-Mag Rally, and Enigmo. While some of the top free apps were Pandora radio, Tap Tap Revenge,  Shazam, Google Earth, and Lightsaber Unleashed. Now because in-app purchases weren’t available,  developers often released ‘lite’ versions of their paid apps that customers could download for free as a way to test out the app before making that big $6.99 purchase of a game like Labyrinth. 

And if you want to be part of the largest mobile gaming community, check out Raid: Shadow Legends.  It already has over 25 million downloads with a million people playing every day. And that means there’s not only a ton of people to play with, but a ton of resources out there to learn from. In fact, just right here on YouTube, nearly 1,000 videos are posted every week about RAID,  with guides and strategies to help you progress through the game as your favorite champion.  This is helpful since RAID is always releasing new updates, with their biggest in development right now. 

It includes the Doom Tower featuring 120 floors of super hard levels and even harder bosses, like the Frost Spider, Magma Dragon, and Tomb Crab. Now if you download RAID Shadow Legends in the next thirty days using the link in the description, you’ll receive 200,000 silver and the Treefeller champion for free. So be sure to take advantage of that deal before it expires. Alright now in 2009 Apple introduced a feature to the App Store that would change the platform forever: And it was called in-app purchases. While this capability was popular among developers, 

It was quite controversial among users, who were afraid app content would be hidden behind paywalls, requiring additional purchases to receive an app’s full experience.  And while that did happen, it turned out to be even worse than that. I’m actually going to dedicate a whole blog to explaining how in-app purchases ruined the app store so be sure you’re subscribed for that. But in short, it spawned a new category of “freemium” apps which were free to download, but cost money to play, it encouraged pay-to-win apps which give users who spend the most money on virtual currency or items a competitive advantage,  and it ruined the straightforward experience of downloading a high-quality app and having it just work. I recently downloaded a teleprompter app and it required a $10 per month subscription.  So then I had to delete it and sift through the App Store to find something that not only did what I wanted but didn’t hide its features behind an unwarranted paywall. I think everyone has a story like that, and it’s primarily because of Apple adding in-app purchases. 

But it wasn’t all bad, because in 2010 Apple released the iPad and its success was in large part due to the App Store. It was the first time Apple released a new category of product that would feature an app marketplace from day one. So to make sure developers had enough time to create apps optimized for the iPad’s larger display, Apple introduced the device in January 2010 but didn’t release it until about two months later. That way, developers would have time to create thousands of apps custom-built for the iPad and have them ready for download on launch day. And the reason why this was so important is easy to understand looking back but wasn’t so clear at the time. 

When any the company releases a product, customers evaluate how much value it offers. And the more things it can do, the more a customer will pay. That’s exactly why the iPhone sold so well in 2007 despite being twice as expensive as other smartphones.  And it’s why the iPad was a runaway success from day one. There were over three thousand apps available on the iPad at launch, with that number growing to fifty thousand by the end of the year. 

Now in 2012, the App Store received a modest redesign as well as the new browsing features.  The Categories tab was replaced by Top Charts,  and Genius, which offered personalized app recommendations, received its own tab. Lastly,  Apple introduced app banners. These appeared in Safari and gave users a shortcut to download a company’s app. Which might be easier to use since it’s optimized for the iPhone, instead of browsing a mobile website. In 2013, the App Store received a significant redesign thanks to iOS 7,  

But also some new features like Near Me, which displayed the most popular apps in your area.  Also, the Genius feature that got its own tab a year earlier was removed from the store entirely. Now by 2014, the App Store offered over 1.2 million apps, and this caused some problems. It became even harder for developers to reach users, and it was difficult for users to find a specific app since there were just so many to look through. Apple tried to remedy this by replacing the  Near Me tab with Explore. Which made it easier for users to find apps they were interested in,  as well as give smaller developers a better chance at being discovered. Apple also added the app bundles feature, which allowed developers to sell multiple apps at once for a discount. The next big App Store updated came in 2016, with iMessage Apps. This actually functioned as a separate mini-App Store and allowed for some pretty incredible functionality within iMessage. For example, users could play Words With Friends or download sticker packs all within the iMessage app. 

This is still a feature that exists today and is a big reason why iMessage is considered by many to be the best messaging app in the world.  Now this update also brought search result ads to the App Store. For the first time, developers could pay to have their app appear at the top of user’s search results for certain keywords.  This not only gave Apple another way to make money from the App Store, but it also gave smaller developers a chance to be seen, instead of their app being buried at the bottom. Now in 2017, the App Store received its most significant update ever. Instead of focusing on top charts and popular new releases, it emphasized curation and editorial content. Original stories,  in-depth interviews, and helpful tips are featured in the today tab and updated daily. 

This offered users a completely new experience when visiting the App Store.  It helped to give apps context, instead of simply showing the most downloaded apps of the day,  users could find a collection of apps to help them blog chat with colleagues or keep them occupied during coffee breaks. It’s a much more intuitive approach to app discovery that not only feels more relevant but also offers more value than before. And the fact that this is still how the App Store is organized today in 2020,  is proof that Apple’s focus on original editorial content was the right move. Now there has been one prominent change since 2017, and that’s the new Apple Arcade tab. Which as you probably already know, costs $5 a month and offers access to hundreds of exclusive gaming apps.Alright guys thanks for watching till the end, if you want more Apple explanations,  check out my website for More information about the App Store.

Tags: Mobile, Mobile Apps, iOS 9, Android Marshmallow, Windows 10, iOS 10