Apple’s App Store is like AOL in the 90s

By June 1, 2009 6 Comments

Reading this morning about the upcoming first anniversary of the App Store in Mobile Entertainment I was thought for the first time about the parallels with AOL in the 1990s.  In both cases an end to end solution, walled garden solution provided the best customer experience in an environment with the following characteristics:

  • Narrow bandwidth
  • Lack of payment standards
  • Challenging navigation
  • Lack of trust

And, like AOL, without doubt the App Store has been an awesome success.  I didn’t know this before, but according to ME after one month Steve Jobs said “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software”.  I wonder what he is thinking now?!?

Here are the stats (again from ME):

  • Number of downloads – 1bn in first nine months
  • Number of apps – 37k+
  • Average apps per device – 27 (I was surprised by this)
  • Number of iPhone programmers – 11,162
  • Average app selling price – $2.63
  • Estimated daily revenue – $1m

The interesting question, of course, is how far the parallel extends, i.e. will the App Store ultimately lose out to more open solutions?

Certainly we can expect the bandwidth, payment, navigation and trust issues to get sorted, which leads me to believe that as on the web open will ultimately win – so I guess the answer to this question depends on how Apple evolve their offering over time.  Certainly there is no technology or business model reason why they couldn’t evolve their offering and maintain their current leadership position, although as I have blogged before I wonder if their culture will be an inhibitor.