10 Years Ago Today, Something Happened That Changed Everything

SILICON VALLEY, Calif.—On July 10, 2008, the technology giant Apple, which was not as giant then as it is now, debuted a new app that would quickly become a huge reason why the computer company that once catered to a niche market of artists, designers and tech enthusiasts grew to the dominant, global corporation that it is today.

That new app was the App Store itself. Now, 10 years later, app developers have raked in a cumulative $100 billion from Apple’s App Store, according to data crunched by the site Statista

The App Store turned the iPhone, introduced the previous year, from a simply a sleek new type of cell phone to a handheld computer that could do, well, pretty much anything—as reflected in Apple’s instantly iconic advertising slogan,  “There’s an app for that.”

Apple’s surge from specialty computer-maker with a fierce but limited brand-loyal following to perhaps the most ubiquitous technology brand in the world began several years earlier, first with the introduction of the candy-colored, consumer-friendly iMac computer, the first computer designed to let even the most tech-averse among us access the internet with ease. That was in 1998.

Five years later, Apple brought the world the iPod, a pocket-size digital music player that made it easy to carry hours of tunes anywhere a user wanted to go, cementing Apple’s image, in the words of one expert as “a company where technology just works, and you don't need a Ph.D. to listen to a song."

But it was the iPhone, accompanied by the seemingly limitless functionality made possible by “apps”—small but nimble programs, or “applications,” each designed for  a specific and generally amazing purpose—that really sent Apple into the economic and cultural stratosphere. In 2006, according to Statista data, the year before the iPhone came on the market, Apple pulled in a respectable but in the grand scheme of things uninspiring $1.99 billion in profit. In 2009, the year after the App Store debuted, that pot of cash now totaled $8.24 billion. But that was nothing compared to Apple’s peak year of 2015, when Apple generated an astonishing $53.39 billion in profit. That’s more than the projected 2018 Gross Domestic Product in dozens of small countries, including Serbia, Jordan and Bolivia.

In 2017, Apple’s revenues leveled off slightly, with “only” $48.35 billion. Thanks in large part to the vast range of “apps for that” available in the Apple App Store, the iPhone became the world’s bestselling consumer product, with more than one billion sold worldwide since 2007, according to Statista. The App Store itself offered upwards of 2 million apps for download in the first quarter of 2018.

But one genre of app is still largely missing from the Apple App Store: porn. While there are a number of apps that manage to sneak some form of adult content past Apple’s screeners, as the site VR Heads  noted earlier this year. The App Store also revolutionized social media with on-the-go-apps for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others that have proven a boon to porn performers and producers.

Image: Apple Inc./Wikimedia Commons