When Apple rolled out the App Store in July of 2008, it gave developers the ability to take an already revolutionary device like the iPhone and take it to unforeseen heights. While mobile apps up to that point were often clunky affairs that featured mediocre graphics, poor user interfaces, and relatively limited functionality, the App Store ushered in a wave of polished and innovative apps that forever changed the way we use mobile devices.
Looking back, rolling out an App Store seems like a no-brainer, but Steve Jobs, as it turns out, was actually opposed to the idea at first.
Recall this excerpt from Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography.
Apple board member Art Levinson told Isaacson that he phoned Jobs "half a dozen times to lobby for the potential of the apps," but, according to Isaacson, "Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to figure out all the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers."
But after months of developers and users alike clamoring for an SDK, not to mention a thriving jailbreak community that was becoming increasingly hard to ignore, Apple had a change of heart. The company finally announced an SDK for iOS at a special media event held on March 6, 2008, about 9 months after the release of the original iPhone.
In an interesting look back, the video below shows Steve Jobs, Scott Forstall, and Phil Schiller answering questions during a Q&A session that followed the introduction of the iOS SDK.
Funny enough, the App Store that Steve Jobs initially opposed to would quickly become one of the iPhone's main selling points, as evidenced by the ubiquitious "There's an app for that" ad campaign.
As it stands now, there are now over 1 million apps on the App Store, with consumers having downloaded over 60 billion apps over the last 5 years and 9 months.
So let's just be thankful that Steve Jobs had a change of heart, because imagine life without an App Store, as described by Jobs himself during WWDC 2007.
The full Safari engine is inside of iPhone. And so, you can write amazing Web 2.0 and Ajax apps that look exactly and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone. And these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services. They can make a call, they can send an email, they can look up a location on Google Maps.
And guess what? There's no SDK that you need! You've got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today. So developers, we think we've got a very sweet story for you. You can begin building your iPhone apps today.