Five years ago today, on July 10, 2008, Apple launched the App Store. When the virtual doors were opened, the App Store proudly included 500 apps. Just a few months later, when iPhone J.D. started, there were 10,000 apps available. A year later, there were 100,000 apps available. By the Fall of 2011, there were over 500,000 apps available. Today, there are over 900,000 apps available, and it won't be long before there are a million apps in the App Store.
Apple didn't invent the idea of buying software for a mobile device — back in the day, I purchased quite a few apps for my Palm Treo 650, including Documents to Go, an app that I still use today on the iPhone — but Apple made it so easy (and comparatively inexpensive) to purchase apps, and gave developers such a great platform for releasing apps, that nobody can deny that Apple's App Store was a game-changer.
In fact, Apple thought that the "App Store" was so much its own that when Amazon came out with an "app store" for Android devices, Apple sued Amazon, claiming that the term was its alone. Yesterday, on the eve of the fifth anniversary, Apple dropped the lawsuit, stating: "We no longer see a need to pursue our case. With more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favorite apps."
Over the years we have seen a large number of high-quality apps written especially for lawyers. The first law-related app that I reviewed on iPhone J.D. was a free version of the Constitution produced by Clint Bagwell Consulting that is still available today. In fact, that app was just updated in March of 2013 to note Mississippi's official ratification this year of the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery). The first app-related lawsuit that I discussed was in early 2009; one fart sound app developer sued another such developer over the use of the phrase "pull my finger" in the app — which sounds silly, but those apps made their developers hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, for some lucky developers, the App Store has been a gold rush; Apple has already paid app developers over $9 billion.
Today, we have many sophisticated law-specific apps such as TranscriptPad, WestlawNext, LexisAdvance, Fastcase, Rulebook, Black's Law Dictionary, plus a ton of general-purpose apps that lawyers use all the time such as GoodReader, Documents to Go, GoodNotes, 1Password, and many, many others.
Apple has retired the "There's an app for that" campaign — a phrase that Apple trademarked in 2010, and that even inspired a Sesame Street video. Nevertheless, the sentiment remains as true today as ever. You can find an app for almost any need, and the quantity and quality of apps is a big part of what makes the iPhone and iPad so special.
To celebrate the fifth anniversary, Apple arranged to make a five of the most popular game apps and five of the most popular non-game apps free this week. Game developer EA followed suit, so right now you can get the following apps for free:
- Barefoot World Atlas:
- Day One (diary/journal):
- How to Cook Everything (cookbook normally $9.99):
- Over (photo-captioning software):
- Traktor DJ iPhone (normally $19.99):
- Badland (game):
- Infinity Blade II (game):
- Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (game):
- Tiny Wings (game):
- Where's My Water? (Disney game):
- Dead Space (EA game):
- Mirror's Edge (EA game):
- The Sims: Medieval (EA game):
It's amazing to think how far the App Store has come in only five years. One cannot help but be excited for the future of iOS apps.