Last month marked the 10th anniversary of the App Store, which Apple celebrated by marking all of the milestones hit and the lives changed. Now, The Wall Street Journal has shared an interview from August of 2008 with Steve Jobs in which he talks about his hopes for the App Store and much more…
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The Wall Street Journal is jointly publishing both the audio and transcript of the interview, in partnership with The Information, for the first time. The interview occurred on August 7th, 2008 – nearly one month after the App Store launched – with then WSJ reporter Nick Wingfield.
First and foremost, Jobs likened the App Store for iPhone to iTunes for the iPod, saying that it served as a way of enhancing a device with internet-delivered content:
The way we think about this is that the App Store is to iPhone like iTunes is to iPod. Just like with the iPod, where we enhanced it with an internet service to bring content to it, we’re doing the same thing with the iPhone.
We’re enhancing it with an internet service to deliver content right to the phone. In this case, since we already bring the iTunes music content to the phone, we’re bringing applications.
We think that the result…It’s the same exact strategy as the iPod. Enhance the device with internet-delivered content. Beyond iTunes, we can wirelessly deliver the content right on the device, without a PC. We can automatically update the apps. It’s standing on the shoulders of iTunes.
Jobs was then asked roughly how many new apps were hitting the App Store every day – to which he said there were roughly 50 new ones launching every day. That’s a number that feels minuscule in comparison to where we are today.
Steve Jobs introducing the App Store in 2008
The conversation then turned to taste issues and Apple’s role in moderating the apps that are submitted to the App Store:
There’s a few taste issues. We don’t put up porn, obviously, but there’s also copyright issues. There was one nice movie app that put up Rotten Tomatoes scores. Fox, who owns Rotten Tomatoes, called us up and said, “They don’t have the rights to do that.”
We have to go back to them and say, “Hey, we’ve got to take your app down.” Copyright owners have given some inputs here. We have to take the apps down until they work it out with the copyright owner
Jobs then touted that users had downloaded over 60 million apps from the App store over the first 30 days. Again, that’s a stat that seems tiny compared to where we are today, with Apple touting last year that the App Store had 180 billion downloads to date.
We didn’t expect it to be this big. The mobile industry’s never seen anything like this. To be honest, neither has the computer industry. [laughs] 60 million downloaded applications in the first 30 days. 30% as big as iTunes song downloads during the last 30 days, this is off the charts.
The mobile industry’s never seen anything like this. To be honest, neither has the computer industry.
One of the most interesting parts of the interview is hearing Jobs talk about the future of the App Store. He explained that perhaps, one day, the App Store would be a billion dollar market place. Last month, Apple touted that $100 billion had been paid to developers.
Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a billion dollar marketplace at some point in time. This doesn’t happen very often. A whole new billion dollar market opens up. 360 million in the first 30 days, I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software.
At one point in the interview, Jobs actually called Eddy Cue because he was unsure of how developers were able to track their downloads and earnings:
[Mr. Jobs calls Apple executive Eddy Cue] Hi, Eddy. How often can developers check in to get their reports? Daily? Got it, thanks, all right. Bye, bye. They can check into it whenever they want. It updates once a day. It’s every developer, not just the big ones.
Jobs also breaks down which apps he had on his iPhone:
MR. WINGFIELD: What third-party apps are you using on your iPhone?
MR. JOBS: I bought some games. Yelp. I like Yelp. I bought Mandarin. You know Mandarin Phrase? Have you seen that?
MR. WINGFIELD: No.
MR. JOBS: This one’s cool. It’s a Mandarin audio phrasebook. This would be great if you were at the Olympics today. I’ve got the New York Times app. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t have an app. [laughter] I’ve got Epocrates, I’ve got Anatomy. You’ve seen the Netter’s Anatomy, right?
MR. WINGFIELD: Yeah, that’s the one with all the colorful illustrations.
MR. JOBS: Yeah, I’ve had their book forever, and I love anatomical drawings. I’ve got Facebook, I’ve got Units, I’ve Sudoku. I’ve got a great Sudoku game, which I’m actually getting pretty good at. I’ve got Bloomberg. The Facebook app’s pretty cool. A lot of people are using it.
Jobs concludes the interview by describing how the App Store and apps in general will evolve over time, saying that at that time, they were just at the tip of things.
I think there are a lot of people and I’m one of them who believe that mobile’s going to get quite serious because there are things you can do…Obviously, mobile’s with you all the time, but there’s services you can provide with mobile that obviously are not relevant on a desktop, such as location-based services integrated into your application.
They can be mighty useful and we’re just at the tip of that. That’s going to be huge, I think.
The full interview transcript and audio can be found on The Wall Street Journal. There’s much more there and it is definitely worth a read or listen.