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App Store (iOS)

For the OS X desktop app store, see Mac App Store.

App Store (iOS)
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release July 10, 2008; 11 years ago (2008-07-10)
Development status Active;
As of February 1, 2015:[1]
1.4+ million apps available
75+ billion apps downloaded
Operating system Native: iOS
iTunes: Windows & OS X
Platform iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, iPad Mini, iTunes
Type Digital distribution, software update
License Proprietary, Freemium, Freeware
Website iOS App Store

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 are 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.).

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 from sale of virtual goods and/or advertising). Apple takes 30 percent of all revenue generated through apps, and 70 percent goes to the app's publisher.[2]


File:Download on the App Store Badge.svg
Download on the App Store badge as of 2015

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.[3] As of February 10, 2012, there are at least 1,100,000+ third-party apps officially available on the App Store.[4]

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".[5] At 10:26 am GMT on Saturday, January 22, 2011,[6] 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.[7][8]

The mean revenue per application is estimated to be US$8,700, although data is not publicly available.[9] As of May 2011, Apple approved its 500,000th app and 37 percent of all apps are free with an average price of $3.64.[10] The distribution of price follows a power law distribution (the Zipf–Mandelbrot law). Prices can be freely chosen by sellers at multiples 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.[11][12][13][14] However, Apple applied for a U.S. trademark on the term App Store in 2008[15][16] which was tentatively approved in 2011.[17] Later, in June 2011, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who was presiding over Apple's case against Amazon, said she would "probably" deny Apple's motion that seeks to bar the Web retailer from using the "App Store" name.[18][19][20] Later on July 6, Apple was denied preliminary injunction against Amazon's Appstore by a federal judge.[21]

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.[22] 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[23] and in product names since at least 2002, for example Google Apps (introduced in 2006).[24]

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.[25] 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).[26]

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.[27]

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.[28]

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.[29] 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.[30]

On February 1, 2013, Apple informed developers that they could begin using for links to their apps.[31]

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.[32]

As of the end of 2013, App Store users spent over $10 billion in 2013, users downloaded almost three billion apps in December 2014 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.[33]

On November 17, 2014, Apple updated the iOS App Store so that all apps that have no charge to download are labeled "GET" instead of the previous "FREE" and apps that include microtransactions includes smaller subtext that says "In-App Purchases".[34]


Main article: iOS SDK
File:IPad App Store.png
App Store (iOS 7) running on an iPad

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.[35] As of March 2014, the latest iOS SDK is for iOS 8.[36]

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.[37]

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.[37] 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.[35]

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.[37] The enterprise program was updated September 13, 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.[35]

Number of iOS 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.[38] 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 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.[39]

On January 16, 2009, Apple announced on its website that 500 million applications had been downloaded.[40] The billionth application was downloaded on April 23, 2009.[41] On March 3, 2012, the number of apps downloaded reached 25 billion.[42]

App Store application availability has increased in line with downloads over time.
Date Available apps Downloads to date Average downloads per app
July 11, 2008[43] 500 0 0
July 14, 2008[39] 800 10,000,000 12,500
September 9, 2008[44] 3,000 100,000,000 18,334
October 22, 2008[45] 7,500 200,000,000 26,667
January 16, 2009[40] 15,000 500,000,000 33,334
March 17, 2009[46] 25,000 800,000,000 32,000
April 23, 2009[41] 35,000 1,000,000,000 28,571
June 8, 2009[47] 50,000 1,000,000,000+ ~20,000
July 14, 2009[48] 65,000 1,500,000,000 23,077
September 28, 2009[49][50] 85,000 2,000,000,000 23,529
November 4, 2009[51][52] 100,000 2,000,000,000+ ~20,000
January 5, 2010[53][54] 120,000 3,000,000,000+ ~25,000
March 20, 2010[55] 150,000+ 3,000,000,000+ ~20,000
April 29, 2010[56] 200,000+ 4,500,000,000+ ~22,500
June 7, 2010[57] 225,000+ 5,000,000,000+ ~22,222
September 1, 2010[58] 250,000+ 6,500,000,000+ ~26,000
October 20, 2010 300,000+[59] 7,000,000,000[60] ~23,334
Jan 22, 2011[61] 350,000+ 10,000,000,000+ ~28,571
June 6, 2011[4] 425,000+ 14,000,000,000+ ~32,941
July 7, 2011[7] 425,000+ 15,000,000,000+ ~35,294
October 4, 2011[62] 500,000+ 18,000,000,000+ ~36,000
February 28, 2012 500,000+ 24,000,000,000+ ~40,000
March 3, 2012[63] 500,000+ 25,000,000,000[64] ~50,000
June 11, 2012[65] 650,000+ 30,000,000,000+ ~46,154
September 12, 2012[66] 700,000+[66] 35,000,000,000+[67] ~50,000
January 28, 2013[68] 800,000+[68] 40,000,000,000+[69] 50,000
April 23, 2013 825,000+ 45,000,000,000+ 50,000
May 16, 2013 850,000+ 50,000,000,000+[70] 50,000
June 10, 2013 900,000+ 50,000,000,000+ 50,000
October 22, 2013 1,000,000+[71] 60,000,000,000+[71] 60,000
June 2, 2014 1,200,000+[1] 75,000,000,000+ 62,500
September 9, 2014 1,300,000+[1] 75,000,000,000+ 62,500
January 16, 2015 1,400,000+[72] 75,000,000,000+ 62,500

On July 7, 2011, Apple announced that over 15 billion apps had been downloaded from the iOS app store.[7] 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 2011 research study[73] 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.

Number of iPad applications

The iPad launched in April 2010 with over 3,000 applications natively designed for it. By July 2011, 16 months after the release, there were over 100,000 apps available at the App Store designed specifically for the device.[74]

Date Number of native iPad apps
April 2010 3,000
December 2010 50,000
July 2011 100,000+
November 2011 140,000+[75]
January 7, 2013 300,000+[69]
October 22, 2013 475,000+[76]
January 16, 2015 725,000+[72]

Most downloaded 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 was ranked first followed by Koi Pond, and among free apps Facebook was ranked first followed by Google Earth.[77] In May 2012, the most downloaded paid app was Angry Birds followed by Doodle Jump and most downloaded free app was Clash of Clans followed by Skype.[78] In May 2013, the most downloaded paid app was Angry Birds followed by Fruit Ninja and most downloaded free app was Facebook followed by Pandora Radio.[79]

These are the top ten most downloaded iPhone and iPad apps of December 2014:[80]

Rank Paid apps Free apps
1 Heads Up! Facebook Messenger
2 Minecraft - Pocket Edition Snapchat
3 Afterlight YouTube
4 Plague Inc. Facebook
5 Sleep Cycle alarm clock Instagram
6 Facetune Pandora Radio
7 Cut the Rope 2 Google Maps
8 Bloons TD 5 Flipagram
9 A Dark Room Spotify
10 7 Minute Workout Challenge 2048

Application ratings

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:

Rating Description
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 the user is 17 or older, and asking to confirm the purchase for this reason.

App approval process

Main article: Approval of iOS apps

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.

As of 2013, Apple employed mostly static analysis for their app review process, which means that dynamic code reassembly techniques could defeat the review process.[81][82]

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.[83]

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,[84] 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.[85][86]

Controversial apps

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"[87] 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.[88]

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.[89]

In April 2013, Apple removed AppGratis from the iOS App Store for violation of clauses 2.25 and 5.6 in the developer agreement.[90][91]

On November 4, 2014, Apple removed the marijuana social networking app, MassRoots, from the iOS app store because it "encourage[d] excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances.”[92]

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.[93]

Similar services for other devices

Other app stores are available for mobile devices, some provided by the device manufacturer and some independent of them. has the Amazon Appstore for use with any Android-compatible device. Palm Inc. published an app store for Palm devices[94] 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",[95] 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.[96] 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.

See also


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External links

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