App Store passes 15 billion downloads: Today in Apple history

July 7, 2011: Three years after its launch, the App Store passes 15 billion downloads.

This represents a major milestone for Apple. The App Store offers more than 425,000 apps, which give the iPhone and iPad incredible capabilities and add to the devices’ wide appeal.

App Store hits 15 billion downloads

Despite CEO Steve Jobs’ initial reluctance to open an App Store, the easy-to-use software marketplace became an immediate success for Apple. When it opened its virtual doors in 2008, the App Store garnered a massive 10 million downloads in its first 72 hours.

At the time, Jobs praised it as a “grand slam.” However, those numbers turned out to be small fry compared to what Apple later managed. By comparison, these days we can pick and choose from nearly 2 million apps. App Store downloads hit an astonishing 194 billion in 2018 alone.

The App Store undoubtedly got a boost from the launch of the iPad in early 2010, which gave developers a new platform to code apps for.

Successful Apple advertising slogans — like “There’s an app for that” — helped raise awareness of the deep iOS ecosystem. (That one became Apple’s most memorable catchphrase since “Think different” a decade earlier.)

Apple's App Store became a hit on day one.
The App Store became a hit on day one.
Photo: Apple

The world’s top software marketplace

“In just three years, the revolutionary App Store has grown to become the most exciting and successful software marketplace the world has ever seen,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, in a statement on July 7, 2011. “Thank you to all of our amazing developers who have filled it with over 425,000 of the coolest apps and to our over 200 million iOS users for surpassing 15 billion downloads.”

The 15 billion downloads put the App Store on a level with the iTunes Music Store, which only reached that figure in mid-2011, despite launching five years earlier.

The App Store continues to grow, and so do its benefits, for both Apple and developers.

App Store hits 370 billion downloads

“The App Store is a vibrant, innovative marketplace where opportunity thrives, and we’re as committed as ever to investing in developers’ success and the app economy’s future,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this year. He cited a study that said App Store developers generated $1.1 trillion in total billings and sales in 2022. Additionally, the iOS economy supported 4.8 million jobs in the United States and Europe that year. And since the App Store’s launch in 2008, apps have been downloaded more than 370 billion times.

However, change is on the horizon. Both in the United States and abroad, antitrust regulators view Apple’s tight control of the App Store — and its healthy commission on app sales and in-app purchases — with increasing skepticism.

Legislation, including the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, is bringing sweeping change to the App Store’s management. Apple has been forced to allow third-party app stores and side-loading of iPhone apps in Europe. And the company faces huge potential fines as EU regulators find fault with Apple’s compliance with the DMA.

What was your first app download?

What was the first app you remember downloading from the App Store? Leave your comments below.

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