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The App Store is a digital distribution platform for mobile apps on iOS, developed and maintained by Apple Inc. The service allows users to browse and download applications that are developed with Apple's iOS SDK. The apps can be downloaded directly to iOS devices such as the iPhone smartphone, the iPod Touch handheld computer and the iPad tablet computer, or onto a personal computer via iTunes.
The App Store has more than 1.4 million apps and more than 100 billion copies of apps have been downloaded. Apps may be downloaded for free or for a set cost, and they may include in-app monetization (costs levied from sale of virtual goods and/or advertising). Apple takes 30 percent of all revenue generated through apps, and 70 percent goes to the app's publisher.
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In the beginning, the NeXT Computer and the object oriented development tools and libraries it relied on, were used to develop the first electronic "app store": the Electronic AppWrapper in the early 1990s. This same technology concept was used to create the iTunes music store and later the iOS App Store.
The iPhone App Store opened on July 10, 2008, via an update to iTunes. It allowed Apple to control the quality of apps for the first time and to introduce a charge on top of the basic cost of the app. On July 11, the iPhone 3G was launched and came pre-loaded with iOS 2.0.1 with App Store support; new iOS 2.0.1 firmware for iPhone and iPod Touch was also made available via iTunes. As of February 10, 2012, there are at least 1,100,000+ third-party apps officially available on the App Store.
As of January 18, 2011, the App Store had over 9.9 billion downloads, which was announced via the company's "10 Billion App Countdown". At 10:26 am GMT on Saturday, January 22, 2011, the 10 billionth app was downloaded from Apple App Store. As of July 2011, 200 million iOS users downloaded over 15 billion apps from its App Store.
The mean revenue per application is estimated to be US$8,700, although data is not publicly available. In 2015, it was estimated 1,260 developers would make at least $ 1 million. As of May 2011, Apple approved its 500,000th app and 37 percent of all apps are free with an average price of $3.64. The distribution of price follows a power law distribution (the Zipf–Mandelbrot law). Prices can be freely chosen by sellers at multiples of US$1 minus 1 cent (99¢, $1.99, and so on).
After the success of Apple's App Store and the launch of similar services by its competitors, the term "app store" has been adopted to refer to any similar service for mobile devices. However, Apple applied for a U.S. trademark on the term App Store in 2008 which was tentatively approved in 2011. Later, in June 2011, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who was presiding over Apple's case against Amazon, said she would "probably" deny Apple's motion that seeks to bar the Web retailer from using the "App Store" name. Later on July 6, Apple was denied preliminary injunction against Amazon's Appstore by a federal judge.