It's rare to stir up nostalgia for something five years old, but last week's anniversary of the introduction of Apple's App Store did just that.
Proclamations arrived that the App Store launch on July 10, 2008 was even bigger than the introduction of the iPhone the year before. In the last five years, more than 50 billion apps have been downloaded and more than 900,000 programs have become available.
Many articles touched on how the App Store transformed personal computing and positioned "app developer" as a career. Traditional desktop and laptop computers have lost ground in favor of smartphones and app-friendly tablets. Far beyond a device that only picks up and makes calls, the app-loaded smartphone has become an essential part of many people's lives.
Wrote Christina Bonnington for Wired, "Apple's handset was able to finally take on the multitude of functionalities we now expect of all touchscreen phones: Sharing photos, posting to Facebook, finding a place to grab dinner, composing music, and playing every kind of game, from word puzzles to first-person shooters."
Writing for New York's Daily News, Ebenezer Samuel commented how the App Store made "digital-only completely hip and cool." For many consumers, the ease of purchase — and availability of free and cheap apps — removed the past need to own "something physical," whether a CD, DVD, book or any software.
Consumers are also proving to be willing to pay for upgrades and better software features. Beyond the addictive games for those on-the-go, the wide variety and solid content of many apps that range from silly to useful to mind-blowing has fed the app fascination.
As far as directly affecting retail — whether featuring barcode scanning, downloadable coupons, shopping list builders or payment options — apps appears to be just getting started.
While many articles touched on increasing competition from Google, predictions roundly called for apps to only become more disruptive in the future.
Wrote Julie Snider for USA Today, "Expect further advances in wearable computers, and the apps that communicate with them. Expect an evolution (consolidation?) in payment apps. And expect apps that will not only get faster and smarter but will do a better job of anticipating our needs and whims, whether we're at home, the office or the car."
In three years, how essential will apps be to the in-store shopping experience?