Apple App Store marks 5 years of app-ortunity


LOS ANGELES — Imagine a time when we didn't kill time on our phones playing Candy Crush Saga or taking instant photos and videos with Instagram or other apps to broadcast to the world.
Apps as we know them — those little programs that live on our smartphones and tablets — launched in a big way just five years ago — on July 10, 2008 — with the debut of Apple's App Store.
The iPhone was just a year old, with about 10 pre-loaded apps, including YouTube, Google Maps and the camera. Apple's visionary CEO Steve Jobs described the iPhone as an expanding universe with new software that could be easily obtained by clicking an icon on the device's vaunted home screen.
The iTunes App Store launched with 500 apps, including Ebay, Facebook and Super Monkey Ball. Some 900,000 apps are now available, and more than 50 billion have been downloaded.
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"The anniversary of the App Store is a bigger deal than the (recent sixth) anniversary of the iPhone," says independent analyst Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group. "It changed so much."
The App Store led the mobile boom that has ushered in the decline of traditional desktop and laptop computers. PC sales have stagnated, and Microsoft's long dominance of computing has taken a hit as apps became the new buzzword. The birth of the App Store helped turn dorm-room concepts into billion-dollar ideas for app developers and revived the fortunes of a then-struggling music service, Pandora.
Simply put, the app era has made computing more fun, says Doherty. "People show off their apps: 'Look what this can do,'" he says. "People smile more than they did in the PC era."
Have you checked out that cool new app that sends photos that disappear in seconds (Snapchat)? Killing time before the airplane takes off? How about just one more round of Words With Friends? (Just ask actor Alec Baldwin, who got kicked off the plane because he refused to turn off the app.) And speaking of travel, what would a road warrior be without a flight-tracker app that monitors arrival times, gate info and other vital data?
And then there's Instagram. What were we like before we obsessively took instant photos of our food, travels and daily lives?
Just ask Kevin Systrom, who created Instagram while at Stanford with co-founder Mike Krieger. The app launched in October 2010. In 2012, they sold their company to Facebook for $1 billion.
"I figured if we were lucky, we'd have 2,500 sign-ups on our first day," recalls Systrom. "Instead, we got 25,000. From all over the world. It was crazy."
Some 16 billion photos have been shared since on Instagram — 45 million images daily.

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