Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

With 50 Billion Apple Apps Downloaded, All I Got Was This Poster

Apple is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the App Store. I know this because the company sent a poster, as it sometimes does on anniversaries.

It’s a standard 24-by-36-inch poster, with glossy images. The background is Apple white, of course. Bullets on a timeline point to the highlights of the App Store since its launch in 2008. It’s like the beginning of most Apple presentations, during which the company rattles off its impressive numbers, but in poster form. From a distance, the whole thing looks like a strand of DNA.

apple_yum_posterApple has put out a lot of these kind of posters over time, such as the “Yum” original iMac poster and the “Hell froze over” iTunes-launching-on-Windows poster from October 2003.

Now this. At first, I didn’t know what to do with this new poster, as I don’t have a personal home office in which to hang it. I briefly imagined what it would look like next to the heartthrob or the death-metal posters of a teenager’s room, but it wouldn’t work there, either. It would not fit in next to posters of mountain streams and dusky hills with italicized inspirational quotes beneath them.

Then, I decided to rewrite the poster as a journalist would, one who is not as adept as Apple’s fancy marketing team at imagining it. But, here are a handful of new bullet points for the poster anyway:

Apple poster, July 2008:

App Store launches in 62 countries with 500 apps available, including At Bat, Super Monkey Ball, eBay, Travelocity, Facebook, Shazam and Yelp.

Edited version:

Later that year, in October 2008, Google also launched its Android Market, now called Google Play. Fast-forward five years: Google app download numbers are nearing and could surpass Apple’s. Apple still trounces Google in app revenue, however.

Apple poster, April 2009:

App downloads top one billion worldwide.

Edited version:

Nokia comes charging onto the scene with its own app store, Ovi. Take that, Apple! (Oops, just kidding.)

Apple poster, December 2010:

Angry Birds, the year’s most downloaded game, celebrates its first anniversary.

Edited version:

A Wall Street Journal examination of 101 smartphone apps showed that 56 were transmitting private info without users’ awareness or consent. Among the apps tested, iPhone apps transmitted more data than the Google Android apps.

Apple poster, May 2011:

Conde Nast launches subscriptions in the App Store.

Edited Version:

In June of that year, Apple finally backed down after tussling with big publishers over in-app subscription rules, which threatened to further eat into content-publishers’ revenue (beyond the 30 percent Apple takes for app purchases).

Apple poster, June 2012:

App Store expands to 155 countries.

Edited version:

Apple comes under fire for App Store fraud issues. Apple said in a statement that it was working to enhance security.

Apple poster, May 2013:

App Store downloads surpass 50 billion — over 800 per second. Over 850,000 apps are available; 350,000 native to iPad.

Edited version:

As Apple’s App Store balloons in size, some say the store suffers from less-than-optimal search and inefficient app categorization.

All kidding aside, the App Store’s huge growth in terms of both apps and downloads is impressive, and it launched the gigantic explosion of consumer interest in mobile. The iPhone and App Store combined have arguably changed everything and set off massive reverberations still being felt across the tech sector.

In other words, way more impressive than any Justin Bieber poster.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work