Apple celebrates first year of App Store hijinks
Happy birthday, fartmonger!
One year ago Friday, Apple launched its iTunes App Store. And it's been one hell of a wild - if famously flatulent - ride ever since.
Love it or hate it, the iPhone has been a runaway success, and the App Store has been a major contributor to its inarguable megahit status.
By October, the Store had grown to 5,550 apps and 200 million downloads. In December its 10,000 apps grew that total to 300 million downloads, January saw 15,000 apps and 500 million downloads, and the one billion downloads mark was achieved this April, when the Store held 35,000 apps.
Now, on its first birthday, the App Store's collection easily exceeds 56,000 apps, according to Store-watcher 148apps. Add to that the over 4,000 apps that 148apps tags as "inactive" and we're talking over 60,000 apps written for the iPhone and iPod touch over the past year.
With those numbers in mind, you could be excused for thinking that it's been a year of smooth sailing for Apple's online megastore. But you'd be wrong.
Although Apple's iPhone Developer Program has enticed new devs to flock to the iPhone in record numbers, their path has not always been a smooth one.
First, Apple imposed an non-disclosure agreement on developers that prevented them from sharing info - including details of their rejection letters. After a suitable hue and cry in the blogosphere, Apple lifted the NDA in October.
Soon after that, however, another flap developed when Apple was accused of favoring a major developer - Google - over hoi polloi. Then there were delays in that many developers experienced in getting paid for their app sales.
One of the most frustrating hurdles that developers have had to, well, hurdle, has been Apple's difficult-to-comprehend censorship system, which has over the past year brought down - among many, many others - comics, mammaries, South Park, shaken babies, Jesus, and the reindeer-assisted murder of old women.
But there have been moments of levity as well. Who can forget, for example, the mother of all stupid iPhone apps, the notorious "I Am Rich," which simply displayed a glowing gemstone and which one unhappy iPhoney was reported to have actually purchased for its listed price of $999.99?
Then there was the bizarre dust-up between one developer and the Molson Coors Brewing Company, which the developer sued for $12.5m for allegedly stealing the idea for a faux-pint elbow-bending app.
And today, at the apex of the App Stores popularity, the sublime (e.g., Spirituality Quotes) continues to coexist with the ridiculous. A search for the word "fart" on the App Store, for example, now turns up 389 exemplars ranging from iFart Mobile - "The world's most popular digital fart machine!" - to Farting Choir - "The world's most popular Farting Choir!" - (App Store links).
What worries us about this proliferation of digital flatulence is that according to Freudian theory the "anal phase" of child development is usually understood to commence at around 18 months. Let's hope the one-year-old App Store is a precocious child.
But happy first birthday, App Store. You've grown big and strong, but you haven't yet found your moral compass or fully developed your sense of responsibility. Hopefully, that will come soon.
All things considered, though, it's been a very good year. ®
Admitedly few good apps?
OK, it's small by percentage, but I've dowloaded and tried (or tried on someone else's) iPhone over 200-250 apps I've really liked. Many have been demos or free trials, and although i though the game or app was real good, $5.99-9.99 apps go on my waiting list and I get them if/when they go on sale. I only own 3-4 apps i paid $5.99 for (and fieldrunners is one of them).
I have all my 11 screens full save a few spots. About 1/3rd is games. Half those apps were free, the majority of the rest were 0.99 or 1.99 (some on sale, others were just that price to start with). I have no "gimick" apps on my device. I've nabbed a few free ones in the past thinking they were somethine more inteeresting, and quickly purged them from iTunes and the phone, but overall of the more than 200 apps I actually have on my PC, and about 150 on the phone at any time, I have maybe 10 I'm keeping around i considder "useless" and thats only because of forthcoming promised free content updates.
There might be 56,000 active apps in the store, and I agree more than half are outright crap or "unfinished" apps that need work or major content additions, and about 20% of the remaining are trial versions of full apps, but there's easy 1,000 completely usefull apps in that store, and that's not counting the specialty apps like medical dictionaries and diagnostic tools only a few select people are interested in.
What's on my device, the core 40-50 apps I use aty least once a week, and the few "can't live without" utilities that i don't use often but simply won;t delete, maybe I've spent $70-80 total. On my old Palm, just 3-4 apps cost me that much, and their UI sucked...
OK, there's not a version of Microsoft Office yet (give em time, they admit they're working on it; it took 3 years to get one out for the Palm OS, and a while for other platforms too). Some of the other things people are asking for (in small but vocal numbers) also have yet to appear. But in general, spend $50 on apps for any other device and see what you get compared to what's in the app store for the same price. Maybe that game on the iPhone isn't as major of a release as it is for the PSP, but it was $2 on the iPhone and $40 for your PSP...
...and it's only been a year, and 3 major OS releases and the promise of 4.0 and new multiprocess capability coming. (like background GPS TomTom demoed).
The phone's not perfect, but it;s a heck of a platform and evolving fast. Many of the apps suck (especially as a percentage of the whole), but there's an easy 500-1000 AWESOME apps, and multiple serious competitors leaving you choices in most app genres.
My PSP went to ebay for £75 and my old Nokia 95 went to Environphone for £100 (and it was tatty) so my "expensive" iPhone wasnt, it helped free up some cash..... wipe of your dust and sell it quick!
My old Plam TX is up next, provided it works properly. I do like my iPhone......
Re: All farting aside
@Joe K, David Edwards:
You are right. El Reg likes to ridicule the App Store for all the useless crap, but tends to skip reporting on the (admittedly few) very useful and innovative apps. For every few hundred fart apps there's one really good game or such.
It's like critisizing the Internet as useless just because it's the biggest repository of pr0n and apocryphal trivia in human history. Sure, the crap's out there and it is very easy to stumble upon; but it's not like there is absolutely no useful content, which is equally as easy to find.