Steve Jobs on the App Store in 2008: 'We Didn't Expect It to Be This Big'
Following the launch of the App Store in 2008, Apple CEO Steve Jobs sat down for an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
In celebration of the recent 10th anniversary of the App Store, The Wall Street Journal today published both the audio and transcript of that interview, where Jobs shares his view on the future of the App Store and the future of Apple.
The interview took place in August of 2008, a month after the launch of the App Store. Even back then, just after its debut, the App Store's success surprised Jobs, who said Apple hadn't expected the App Store to "be this big." "The mobile industry's never seen anything like this," he said.
Within 30 days, users had downloaded 30 percent as many apps as everybody in the world downloaded songs from iTunes during the same period of time. Jobs said he could not even predict how many new apps would be uploaded by a particular date given the App Store's wildly popular debut.
I would not trust any of our predictions because reality has so far exceeded them by such a great degree that we've been reduced to spectators just like you, watching this amazing phenomenon and just doing our best to try to help everybody get their apps done and get them on the store.
In the early days of the App Store, Apple was criticized for high app prices. "It's a competition," said Jobs. "Who knew what to price things at?" According to Jobs, Apple didn't have advice for developers on pricing either. "Our opinions are no better than yours because this is so new."
Jobs went on to mull how the App Store could grow in the future as people adopted the iPhone and the iPod touch, speculating that it could be a billion dollar marketplace, which Apple has significantly exceeded. As of July 2018, developers have earned more than $100 billion from the App Store.
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.
Jobs said that he didn't expect the App Store would be a big profit generator, with Apple instead launching it to add value to the iPhone. Jobs was wrong, though, and Apple's services category is the size of a Fortune 100 company, largely on the strength of the App Store. In Q2 2018, for example, services brought in $9.19 billion and the App Store set an all time revenue record.
While Jobs was surprised by the success of the App Store, it didn't stop him from declaring that the "phone of the future will be differentiated by software," a prediction that has largely come true. Today, many high-end smartphones share similar features and designs, with software - iOS and Android - as one of the main factors that people take into consideration when choosing a device.
The entire interview with Steve Jobs is well worth listening to and can be found over at The Wall Street Journal.