When Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) first introduced its App store in 2008, it had only 500 applications available for the new iPhone. Now at 5 years old, the app store is home to more than 900,000 apps and has had 50 billion downloads.
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The store has matured over the years in its selection and navigation, says Tim Stevens, editor in chief of Engadget web magazine. The store has also improved its curation, with consumers being able to easily locate apps that perform well and cater specifically to them.
“Before, it was just a big mass of applications,” Stevens says. “Now there are lists, and more ways to focus on the app store. There are personal recommendations for you, rather than just lists of the most popular apps.”
Apple makes app recommendations based on users’ personal recommendations and reviews. Stevens says the company also has staff that make recommendations for apps that are well-designed, but haven’t become mainstream.
The app store today is also filled with user-created applications, according to Stevens, since new software makes it easy for anyone to launch an app.
“There are online teaching tools for people who want to learn program language,” he says. “There are also multiple programs out there that let you create an app, so even kids can make their own applications now—it’s a much more creative enterprise than ever before.”
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But as selection has increased, so too have prices. Steven says five years ago more apps were either listed as free or for $0.99. “Apps in general were largely cheap and free, and there are still tons of those, but we are seeing more higher-priced applications toady, especially games.”
Game offerings have risen in price, with some of the better-designed and more costly to make apps costing as high as $10 and $25 to download, Stevens says.
And finally, competition among app designers is fierce. With more offerings and an increasingly open market, due to the less complicated app creation process, it takes more for an app to really stand out.
“It’s so competitive, as the quality of applications has gone up,” Stevens says. “But the most important thing is that the app store is a vital part of the iOs ecosystem.”