iPhone App Store 1 Year Later: Apple’s Highs and Lows
By Jared Newman
Apple may enjoy smugly tooting its own horn, but it is particularly puffed-up today while celebrating a year of the iPhone and iPod Touch App Store.
“Light a candle and cue the music,” Apple says on a special iTunes page for the occasion. “Okay, forgive us for sounding like doting parents, but we’re just so proud — having watched the App Store grow from promising newcomer to full-fledged revolutionary.”
Indeed, Apple’s got a lot to brag about, but not without a few low points the company would rather forget. That’s why we’re here — to crash Apple’s party and bring up both the good and bad over a year of “There’s an App for That.”
Baby Shaker: How fitting that Apple’s most notorious App Store woe pertains to infancy. As the name suggests, the Baby Shaker app tasked players with shaking their iPhones to stop a baby from crying. Child advocates freaked out, and Apple axed the app in a matter of days. More than a matter of tasteless content, Baby Shaker shines a light on the App Store approval process, revealing inconsistencies that would come up time and time again.
One Billion Downloads: The milestone of one billion App downloads solidified the App Store as the most popular place to find whatever mobile function tickles the fancy. It’s been suggested that all those downloads are a moneymaker for Apple, but more importantly it creates a thriving market that, in tur, makes the iPhone more attractive to potential customers.
Angry Developers: All things considered, the App Store enjoyed a smooth launch, but not without complaints from developers. A lack of communication and delays in posting updates or bug fixes frustrated App makers in the early days. Later, TechCrunch reported on late payments to developers. It’s just like the real Gold Rush.
Rich Developers: They can complain all they want, but at the end of the day who can argue with the iPhone’s money-making potential. The App Store has created a cottage industry of small-time programmers who can get rich overnight with just one hit idea.
AT&T Muscle: Not every complaint with the App Store is Apple’s fault. When the long-awaited SlingPlayer application arrived, it came without the capability to stream television over a 3G connection. That’s because AT&T’s terms of service wouldn’t allow it due to bandwidth concerns. Thing is, other AT&T handsets, such as the Blackberry Bold, could run the App just fine. The iPhone was just too popular for its own good.
Breakthrough Apps: At the very least, the App Store is a breeding ground for innovation, and the best ideas make you wonder why it wasn’t part of your life before. Examples include Shazam, which can identify the songs you hear at a bar or restaurant, and Trapster, a radar detector. With GPS Apps on the way to support iPhone 3.0 OS, the iPhone could very well be the only gadget you need.
The Dark Side: Contrary to what Apple tells you, there isn’t always an App for that, because Apple (or in some cases, AT&T) doesn’t want its users enjoying certain capabilities of the more-than-capable smartphone. Unfortunately for Apple, there’s jailbreaking, which makes almost anything possible. We’re counting this one as both a highlight and a lowlight, as it depends on who you’re asking.
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