One billion makes for a catchy and memorable milestone. The world’s population passed the 1 billion mark in 1804. McDonald’s sold its 1 billionth hamburger in 1963. The 1billionth PC shipped in 2002.
Apple’s App Store hit that mark today, in just nine months, with much fanfare.
Granted, downloading a small program to your iPhone or iPod Touch is an entirely different sort of commerce than selling a burger or a PC, but Apple’s app universe has managed to acquire a remarkable amount of cultural currency in a short amount of time. As evidence, look at the controversy over the “Baby Shaker” app, which Apple quickly removed and apologized for on Thursday (the company’s statement said in part “this application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store”).
It goes without saying that apps have changed smartphones and mobile computing. They have also given rise to a lucrative cottage industry for developers and entrepreneurs, and made Apple a serious player in the mobile gaming space.
Such success invariably invites competition, which is already here and promises to heat up further. Research in Motion recently opened its app store for the BlackBerry, Nokia will launch its Ovi store soon, and Palm will soon follow with a store for its forthcoming Pre smartphone.