Why Steve Jobs was initially opposed to the iTunes App Store

Fri, Oct 21, 2011

Apple History, News

The iTunes App Store, to a lesser degree than the iPhone, fundamentally changed the way people interact with and use their phones. Whereas mobile apps used to consist of games like rudimentary poker titles, Apple’s app store ushered in a new era of smartphone applications with categories that ran the gamut from photography apps to banking apps, and of course, games.

It’s actually easy to forget that the iPhone, during its first year of release, existed without an accompanying app store.

That said, one of the more interesting details to leak from Walter Isaacson’s upcoming Steve Jobs biography is that the Apple co-founder wasn’t keen on the concept of an app store at first. Indeed, you might remember that Jobs and Apple initially wanted users to rely on web apps accessible through the Safari browser to get their app fix on.

But after months of developers clamoring for an SDK and a vibrant jailbreak community to boot, Jobs had a change of heart and announced in Ocrober 2007 that an SDK would be forthcoming in March 2008.

Apple board member Art Levinson told Isaacson that he phoned Jobs “half a dozen times to lobby for the potential of the apps,” but, according to Isaacson, “Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to figure out all the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers.”

In July 2008, the iTunes App Store opened up for business and was an immediate hit. To date, there have been over 18 billion downloads from the app store, which has taken on a life of its own and has easily become one of the key selling points for the iPhone.

And to highlight how lucky we are, this is what life would have been like without an iTunes App Store. The following quote is from Steve Jobs at WWDC 2007.

The full Safari engine is inside of iPhone. And so, you can write amazing Web 2.0 and Ajax apps that look exactly and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone. And these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services. They can make a call, they can send an email, they can look up a location on Google Maps.

And guess what? There’s no SDK that you need! You’ve got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today. So developers, we think we’ve got a very sweet story for you. You can begin building your iPhone apps today.



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