It’s hard to believe that little over five years ago the concept of the app store was unknown. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone app store in March 2008 even he could not have expected the phenomenal success of his new system. It has been so successful that we now take it for granted, whether buying and downloading software for iPhones, iPads or Macs. Other companies have jumped on Apple’s bandwagon and, with a few exceptions for specialist products, almost all software is now delivered direct to the user on a click-and-buy basis.
Before 2008 buying software was a convoluted process. Most applications came on CD (or, even earlier on multiple floppy disks). Boxed applications were bought from real brick-and-morter stores or, in a weak foretaste of the App Store, some applications could be downloaded from developers’ web sites. In most cases, though, long licence keys had to be typed into awkward boxes that most times didn’t like what you’d entered. aAnd woe betide you if you wanted to change computer or do a complete reinstall.
All this has changed decisively in the past five years and even the abbreviation has become an accepted word in its own right. The stuffiest among us find it unecessary to use the full word, application. Before 2008 we used to call them computer programs, now they are simply apps.
But what goes on behind the scenes of the various app stores that we all rely on and use almost daily? One developer, David Smith, has been involved right from the beginning and has known success, failure, frustration and delight. Best known for his new venture, the RSS aggregator Feed Wrangler, David has written a fascinating account of his trials and tribulations. It is definitely worth a read.