It's no secret that iTunes' App Store has proven wildly successful -- so much so that Apple's smartphone competitors are scrambling to duplicate the concept. But just to drive the point home, Apple today announced that its customers have downloaded more than 1.5 billion applications since the App Store opened one year ago.
"The App Store is like nothing the industry has ever seen before in both scale and quality," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a statement. "With 1.5 billion apps downloaded, it is going to be very hard for others to catch up."
Apple's self-congratulatory cockiness is understandable. The App Store served its one billionth app just three months ago in April, and continues to grow at a rapid pace. It now has more than 65,000 apps and 100,000-plus developers. And it's a safe bet the App Store will surpass 2 billion downloads long before the year is over.
Apple must guard against complacency, however. Smartphone market competitors, including Google, Nokia, Research In Motion, and Palm, have all opened mobile app stores, and Microsoft and Vodafone are developing similar efforts. And App Store critics have pointed out that a large percentage of the site's offerings are novelty apps, including quizzes, farting freebies, and related crapware, that are downloaded and quickly forgotten.
Furthermore, Apple needs to streamline its App Store approval process, which remains a puzzle to developers and users alike. An offensive Baby Shaker app was approved, and then quickly removed from the Store in April, and Apple needs to clarify its position on apps involving sex and nudity.
Despite these issues, however, there's no denying the App Store has been a stunning success. Kudos to Apple.