More than 25 billion apps have been downloaded from Apple's App Store since 2008, the company announced today. A Chinese fan called Chunli Fu, of Qingdao, made the milestone download and earned a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card as a result.
Fu picked up the free version of Where's My Water?, a game in which players have to help an alligator fix his plumbing so he can take a shower. Fu's download neatly highlights two trends for Apple: the growth of Apple in China and the importance of cheap and cheerful games in the App Store.
Launched in July 2008 along with the iPhone 3G, the iOS App Store now contains 550,000 apps, and by Apple's reckoning has created 210,000 jobs in America alone and generated $4billion for third-party developers.
Even though Steve Jobs was initially reluctant to let third-party developers create apps for the iPhone because he feared they would wreck his shiny mobile, Jobs was good at making trendy shops.
Still it's not all profit and games: the App Store has come under fire from two directions: one for being too controlling because Apple's approval process is often lengthy and opaque; and also from privacy advocates, who are critical of apps that take more user information than is obvious.
At a simpler level, the App Store's search and discovery functions are not fantastic, and many apps not in the top-ten lists are buried and lost. Apple bought app search engine Chomp last month to fix the problem.
And though the app store model has been rampantly successful, the steady growth of HTML5 and mobile-enhanced websites mean that apps are still far from replacing the open web. ®