One year on: Apple iPhone 3G and App Store

How 50,000 apps changed how we think about mobiles

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A year ago today, Apple launched the iPhone 3G, the handset that changed everything. But what really revolutionised the mobile landscape is what happened the day after; the advent of the App Store.

Both launches have had a phenomenal effect on the UK's mobile web traffic, with the iPhone now accounting for almost half of the UK's data over mobile.

Biut first, it's easy to gloss over the fact the iPhone 3G moved Apple's mobile vision up several gears. The £269 up-front price of November 2007's first-gen model was hefty, but nobody expected the eye-catching £99 cost of the new model, announced at last year's WWDC.

Equally, given the original iPhone's pricing, it seemed unbelievable when, within months, O2 and Carphone Warehouse started offering the 3G for free on the usual £35 a month tariff.

The 3G also saw Apple step up the sale of the iPhoneworldwide - in a total of 21 countries from 11 July. Whereas the original handset had been available to a privileged (and rich) few, the second-generation model was far more of a global proposition.

A billion apps and counting

But it was the App Store – debuting as part of the iPhone 2.0 firmware – that really propelled the iPhone platform forward. Now with well over a billion apps downloaded in nearly 80 countries, the top iPhone apps had more than one million users in the UK in May 2009 according to mobile advertising firm AdMob.

"In twelve months more than 50,000 applications have been added to the Apple App Store," says Thomas Schulz, head of AdMob in Europe.

And not only have we had the usual productivity apps, but we've had all the fun stuff, too. "The App Store has helped birth the entire genre of pocket computing – a huge, paradigm-shattering shift in IT," believes Chris Phin, Deputy Editor of MacFormat.

"I don't care that it doesn't pull in spectacular revenue for Apple – though some small developers can do very well, thank you very much –and at this stage I don't even really care, at least as a consumer, that Apple's restrictive practices and the clogging up and weird decisions of the App Store review process is causing headaches for developers."

Indeed Apple only has itself to blame for the controversy over some apps, such as the infamous Baby Shaker, while it's approval process continues to flummox some developers.

The top apps did phenomenally well in the initial weeks, with Shazam being one of the names to announce substantial download figures – 1.5 million in the first six weeks of availability.

"The revolutionary App Store has been a phenomenal hit with iPhone and iPod touch users around the world," said Philip Schiller, Apple's head of Worldwide Product Marketing when the App Store hit the download milestone of a billion apps at the end of April. "In nine months, the App Store has completely revolutionised the mobile industry and this is only the beginning."

The peerless appeal of the App Store is its simplicity. "That's the genius," says Phin. "It's easy to add apps – tap-tap-tap-done; and there's thousands of good, free ones to boot – and so it's easy to transform your iPhone from a glorified PDA to a turn-by-turn GPS system, a library of classic novels, a guitar tuner and so, so much more."