App Store (iOS)
|Initial release||July 10, 2008|
|Development status||Active / 1.2 million+ apps
75 billion apps downloaded (As of June 2014).
Windows and OS X (iTunes)
|Platform||iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, iPad Mini, iTunes|
|Type||Digital distribution, software update|
The App Store is a digital distribution platform for mobile apps on iOS, developed and maintained by Apple Inc. The service allows users to browse and download applications that were developed with Apple’s iOS SDK. The apps can be downloaded directly to an iOS device, or onto a personal computer via iTunes (also developed and maintained by Apple Inc.). The “App Store” is not the only app store available, with there being other well-known app stores for Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10.
Applications in “The App Store” are targeted at iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads, and may make use of specific attributes of those devices, such as motion sensors for game controls and cameras for online video calling. Apps may be downloaded for free or for a set cost, and they may include in-app monetization (costs levied through buyable features and/or advertising). Apple takes 30 percent of all revenue generated through apps, and 70 percent goes to the app’s publisher.
- 1 History
- 2 iOS SDK
- 3 Number of launched applications
- 4 Application ratings
- 5 App approval process
- 6 Enterprise App Stores
- 7 Controversial apps
- 8 Implementation and limitations in countries
- 9 Similar services for other devices
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The App Store opened on July 10, 2008, via an update to iTunes. It allowed Apple to control the quality of apps for the first time and to introduce a charge on top of the basic cost of the app. On July 11, the iPhone 3G was launched and came pre-loaded with iOS 2.0.1 with App Store support; new iOS 2.0.1 firmware for iPhone and iPod Touch was also made available via iTunes. As of February 10, 2012, there are at least 1,100,000+ third-party apps officially available on the App Store.
As of January 18, 2011, the App Store had over 9.9 billion downloads, which was announced via the company’s “10 Billion App Countdown”. At 10:26 am GMT on Saturday, January 22, 2011, the 10 billionth app was downloaded from Apple App Store. As of July 2011, 200 million iOS users downloaded over 15 billion apps from its App Store.
The mean revenue per application is estimated to be US$8,700, although data is not publicly available. As of May 2011, Apple approved its 500,000th app and 37 percent of all apps are free with the average price $3.64. The distribution of price follows a power law distribution (the Zipf–Mandelbrot law). Prices can be freely chosen by sellers at multiple of US$1 minus 1 cent (99¢, $1.99, and so on).
After the success of Apple’s App Store and the launch of similar services by its competitors, the term “app store” has been adopted to refer to any similar service for mobile devices. However, Apple applied for a U.S. trademark on the term App Store in 2008 which was tentatively approved in 2011. Later, in June 2011, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who is presiding over Apple’s case against Amazon, said she’ll “probably” deny Apple’s motion that seeks to bar the Web retailer from using the “App Store” name. Later on July 6, Apple was denied preliminary injunction against Amazon’s Appstore by a federal judge.
The term app has become a popular buzzword; in January 2011, app was awarded the honor of being 2010’s “Word of the Year” by the American Dialect Society. Apple does not hold a trademark on, or claim exclusive rights to the term app, which has been used as shorthand for “application” since at least the mid-1990s and in product names since at least 2002, for example Google Apps (first introduced in 2006).
On October 20, 2010, Apple announced the Mac App Store which was eventually launched on January 6, 2011. It is similar to the one for iOS devices, only it has applications designed for Mac computers. The Mac App Store is only accessible by using Mac OS X 10.6.6 “Snow Leopard” or later.
The App Store is accessible from the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad via an iOS application by the same name. It is also the only way to directly download native applications onto an iOS device without jailbreaking the device. Web applications can be installed on these devices, bypassing the App Store entirely, but they tend to have inferior functionality. The store is also accessible through iTunes, and then on any operating system for which iTunes is provided (OS X and Windows).
In February 2011, Apple announced its new subscription-based service, which will allow publishers the freedom to set the length and price of subscriptions. Previously, new magazine or news releases were sold on a per release basis. The new service allows publishers to sell content directly through their apps, allowing users to receive new content over specified periods of time. Furthermore, Apple will begin allowing publishers to not only distribute and/or sell their applications from iTunes, where revenues will continue to be shared (70 percent for the publisher, 30 percent for Apple), but also allow them to distribute their subscriptions directly from their websites, where no revenue will be shared with Apple.
During Apple’s 2012 Worldwide Developer’s Conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the App Store boasts 400 million accounts with registered credit cards, 650,000 available apps to download as well as “An astounding 30 billion apps” downloaded from the app store.
Following the launch of the iPhone 5, Apple updated the UI of the App Store, as well as the iTunes Store and iBookstore, in iOS 6. This was the first major overhaul since the App Store launch in 2008.
On January 7, 2013, Apple announced that there have been over 40 billion apps downloaded from their iOS App Store, with almost half of those downloads coming in 2012.
On February 1, 2013, Apple informed developers that they could begin using appstore.com for links to their apps.
In September 2013, Apple announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference the addition of a Kids category to the App Store alongside the launch of iOS 7. The category is broken down by age range and apps aimed at the under-13 set are required to follow the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requirements.
As of the end of 2013, App Store users spent over $10 billion in 2013, users downloaded almost three billion apps in December 2013 making it the most successful month in App Store history, and App Store developers have earned over $15 billion since the inception of the App Store.
The Software Development Kit for iPhone OS was announced at the iPhone Software Roadmap event on March 6, 2008. The SDK allows developers running Mac OS X 10.5.4 or higher on an Intel Mac to create applications using Xcode that will natively run on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. A beta version was released after the event and a final version was released in July 2008 alongside the iPhone 3G. As of March 2014, the latest iOS SDK is for iOS 7.0.
This major Roadmap event (coupled with a large distribution program for 3rd-party developers), later became known as the iPhone Developer Program, which currently offers two distribution tracks for 3rd-party developers: Standard, and Enterprise.
Applications distributed through the standard program can be sold exclusively through the iTunes Store on Mac and Windows, or on the App Store on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Developers who publish their applications on the App Store will receive 70 percent of sales revenue, and will not have to pay any distribution costs for the application. However, an annual fee is required to use the iPhone SDK and upload applications to the store.
Applications developed through the enterprise program, officially the “iOS Developer Enterprise Program” (iDEP), are exclusively for institutional use and do not get published on the App Store. This allows corporations, non-profits and government agencies to develop proprietary “in-house” applications not for public release. The enterprise program was updated September 14, 2010, to allow any organization with a DUNS number to join. Prior to this date, only organizations with 500 or more employees could join the enterprise program.
To run an application on the iPhone, the application must be signed. This signed certificate is only granted by Apple after the developer has first developed the software through either the US$99/year Standard package or the US$299/year Enterprise package with the iOS SDK.
Number of launched applications
On July 10, 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told USA Today that the App Store contained 500 third-party applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, and of these 25 percent were free. These third party applications range from business to game applications, entertainment to educational applications, and many more applications available for free or for sale. On July 11, 2008 the store opened, allowing users to buy applications and transfer them to an iPhone or iPod Touch with the iPhone 2.0 software update, which became available through iTunes on the same day. Ten million applications were downloaded the first weekend.
On January 16, 2009, Apple announced on its website that 500 million applications had been downloaded. The billionth application was downloaded on April 23, 2009. In March 2012, the number of apps downloaded reached 25 billion.
Unlike the apps that come standard on the iPhone, apps downloaded from the App Store can be removed by the user at a future date.
|Date||Available apps||Downloads to date||Average downloads per app|
|July 11, 2008||500||0||0|
|July 14, 2008||800||10,000,000||12,500|
|September 9, 2008||3,000||100,000,000||18,334|
|October 22, 2008||7,500||200,000,000||26,667|
|January 16, 2009||15,000||500,000,000||33,334|
|March 17, 2009||25,000||800,000,000||32,000|
|April 4, 2009||35,000||1,000,000,000||28,571|
|June 8, 2009||50,000||1,000,000,000+||~20,000|
|July 11, 2009||55,000||1,000,000,000+||~18,182|
|July 14, 2009||65,000||1,500,000,000||23,077|
|September 9, 2009||75,000||1,800,000,000||24,000|
|September 28, 2009||85,000||2,000,000,000||23,529|
|November 4, 2009||100,000||2,000,000,000+||~20,000|
|January 5, 2010||120,000||3,000,000,000+||~25,000|
|March 20, 2010||150,000+||3,000,000,000+||~20,000|
|April 8, 2010||185,000+||4,000,000,000+||~21,622|
|April 29, 2010||200,000+||4,500,000,000+||~22,500|
|June 7, 2010||225,000+||5,000,000,000+||~22,222|
|September 1, 2010||250,000+||6,500,000,000+||~26,000|
|October 20, 2010||300,000+||7,000,000,000||~23,334|
|Jan 22, 2011||350,000+||10,000,000,000+||~28,571|
|June 6, 2011||425,000+||14,000,000,000+||~32,941|
|July 7, 2011||425,000+||15,000,000,000+||~35,294|
|October 4, 2011||500,000+||18,000,000,000+||~36,000|
|February 28, 2012||500,000+||24,000,000,000+||~40,000|
|March 3, 2012||500,000+||25,000,000,000+||~50,000|
|March 5, 2012||550,000+||25,000,000,000+||~45,455|
|March 7, 2012||585,000+||25,000,000,000+||~42,735|
|June 11, 2012||650,000+||30,000,000,000+||~46,154|
|September 12, 2012||700,000+||35,000,000,000+||~50,000|
|January 7, 2013||775,000+||40,000,000,000+||~51,613|
|January 28, 2013||800,000+||40,000,000,000+||50,000|
|April 23, 2013||825,000+||45,000,000,000+||50,000|
|May 16, 2013||850,000+||50,000,000,000+||50,000|
|June 10, 2013||900,000+||50,000,000,000+||50,000|
|October 22, 2013||1,000,000+||60,000,000,000+||60,000|
|June 2, 2014||1,200,000+||75,000,000,000+||62,500|
The iPad launched in April 2010 with over 3000 applications designed for it. By December 2010, just eight months after the release of the iPad, over 50,000 apps were available for the device.
As of July 2011, 16 months after the iPad launched, there were over 100,000 apps available at the App Store designed specifically for the device.
On July 7, 2011, Apple announced that over 15 billion apps had been downloaded from the iOS app store. But, micro level information on the number of downloads of each ranked application has not been made available. To help app producers with their marketing effort and help researchers in better understanding the Apple’s iOS app store, a recent research study has tried to estimate the model that converts the app rank to daily downloads. Researchers Garg and Telang from Carnegie Mellon University found that the app downloads follow a Pareto distribution and can be estimated using the equations:
- iPad_app_downloads = 9,525 * paid_app_rank−0.903
- iPhone_app_downloads = 52,511 * paid_app_rank−0.944
This claim has not been verified by Apple or any other market research organization.
By the end of November 2011, Apple advertised in holiday newsletter of online Apple Store there are more than 140,000 iPad apps available.
As of January 7, 2013, there are more than 300,000 native iPad apps available for users.
As of October 22, 2013, there are more than 475,000 native iPad apps available for users.
Most popular apps
In April 2009, Apple announced the apps which had the most number of downloads since the store was launched. Among paid apps, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D, by Activision Publishing, was ranked first, while Facebook enjoyed the same position among free apps, followed by Google Earth.
Apple rates applications worldwide based on their content, and determines the age group for which each is appropriate. According to the iPhone OS 3.0 launch event, the iPhone will allow blocking of objectionable apps in the iPhone’s settings. The following are the ratings that Apple has detailed:
|4+||Contains no objectionable material.|
|9+||May contain mild or infrequent occurrences of cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, and mild or infrequent mature, suggestive, or horror-themed content which may not be suitable for children under the age of 9.|
|12+||May contain frequent or intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, mild or infrequent mature or suggestive themes, mild or infrequent bad language, and simulated gambling which may not be suitable for children under the age of 12.|
|17+||May contain frequent and intense realistic violence, unrestricted internet access, frequent and intense mature, horror, and suggestive themes; also strong sexual content, nudity, strong language, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs which may not be suitable for children under the age of 17. Whenever an app of this rating is requested for download, a message will appear, verifying if a user is 17 or older, and asking to confirm the purchase for this reason.|
App approval process
Applications are subject to approval by Apple, as outlined in the SDK agreement, for basic reliability testing and other analysis. Applications may still be distributed “ad-hoc” if they are rejected, by the author manually submitting a request to Apple to license the application to individual iPhones, although Apple may withdraw the ability for authors to do this at a later date.
Enterprise App Stores
Because Apple’s Mobile App Store is for consumers, companies are unable to distribute in-house apps on the App Store. Under Apple’s iOS Developer Enterprise Program companies can publish in-house apps to “employees” using an Enterprise App Store.
Apple defines “employees” to include employees and contractors of a company or organization. In September 2012, Apple allowed the definition of “employee” to include faculty, staff and students of an educational institution, as well as credentialed physicians, referring physicians and clinicians.
Apps published with Apple’s iOS Developer Enterprise Program are still subject to Apple’s control via the controversial kill switch, where Apple can revoke a publisher’s digital certificate and thereby “kill” the app on user devices. However, there is no evidence that this has been done in the enterprise environment.
Non-disclosure agreements (NDA) have always forbidden developers from publishing the content of their rejection notices, but Apple has now started labeling their rejection letters with an NDA warning THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE. Apple later changed the NDA citing that “it has created too much of a burden on developers” but they did not reverse the decision to forbid publication of rejection notices. Some applications are not available outside the US App Store at the request of the developer. Since so many developers have published rejection emails Apple now most often call submitters to verbally tell them their rejection notice.
In addition, Apple has removed software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) from the App Store after complaints from one of the program’s developers, claiming that the App Store’s terms of service are incompatible with the GPL.
On several occasions apps that provide functionality unwanted by Apple have appeared on the App Store. Shortly after their true functionality is publicized they are removed as part of the approval process.
In November 2012, Boyfriend Maker, a dating sim game, was removed due to “reports of references to violent sexual acts and paedophilia” which were inappropriate to Boyfriend Maker’s age rating of 4+. A revised version called Boyfriend Maker Plus was approved by Apple in April 2013.
On March 11, 2013, HiddenApps was approved and appeared in the App Store. This App provided access to developer diagnostic menus, allowed for stock Apps to be hidden and enabled an opt-out feature for iAds, Apple’s developer driven advertisement system.
Implementation and limitations in countries
Although Apple envisions the App Store to be a global product, in reality its market is restricted to national boundaries. In other words there are potentially as many distinct App Stores as are countries in the world – even within the European Union which has a single common market, each country has its own App Store. Users have accounts that are in effect limited to their own country and restrictions based on national legislation apply to each national App Store. Apps available on, say, the German App Store, may not be available on the French App Store and French App Store users cannot make purchases from the German App Store. Also attempting to use a national App Store from a different country may cause problems: Apple support warns that “one of the risks of creating a German account while you are in Greece is, our system may able to detect it and it may put restrictions on your account (German) that will prevent you from using the iTunes Store”. Also developers may cause limitations like e.g. American developers who caused restriction for their software to available only in US country.
Similar services for other devices
Other app stores are available for mobile devices, some provided by the device manufacturer and some independent of them. Amazon.com has the Amazon Appstore for use with any Android-compatible device. Palm Inc. published an app store for Palm devices and announced the App Catalog for webOS on the Palm Pre that was released on June 6, 2009. Another platform, Google Play (formerly Android Market) is used in conjunction with Google‘s Android operating system. In 2010, Microsoft released Windows Phone Store, an app store for their Windows Phone platform and also in October 2012, the Windows Store for Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs and tablets.
Nokia released The “Ovi Store“, which replaced its earlier “Download!” application that predated the App Store, for its S60 and S40 based mobile devices. Samsung has created Samsung Apps, primarily to cater for its own Bada OS, but also with support for certain other Samsung devices. BlackBerry has an application store called BlackBerry World. BlackBerry does not restrict BlackBerry 10 users to only its services, they can use other app stores such as those mainly aimed at Android devices.
The Nintendo DSi is able to connect to an online store called the “DSi Shop”, along with Sony‘s PlayStation Portable (PSP) and PlayStation Vita being able to connect to PlayStation Store to download games, etc. The Nintendo 3DS also has its own application distribution platform, called the Nintendo eShop.
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- Official website , App Store on iTunes, requires iTunes
- App Store Downloads (iTunes not needed)
- Official website on Apple.com
- Official iPhone developer site
- App Store on Twitter