It's hard to remember that when Apple released the first iPhone in 2007 on June 29, there was no App Store. For the best part of a year, you could only use the apps that some folks in Cupertino decided you needed. A year later, Apple opened the App Store, with just 500 apps, and opened the floodgates to developers who have created a massive range of software.
For many years, Apple's strap-line was "Think Different". That was inspired by people who bucked the expected standards and did things their own way. People like Maria Callas, Mohandas Gandhi, Amelia Earhart and Pablo Picasso were featured when Apple was trying to reestablish themselves as a company that didn't follow the same path as other computer companies.
The App Store, although it was launched eight years after that campaign ended, was an example of Apple thinking differently. Most of the software we purchased back then came from a relatively small pool of software companies and cost a lot. If you wanted a small program to carry out a specific task you cobbled together a solution with a spreadsheet or database program like Access or Filemaker. But the App Store changed that.
While there are lots of free apps out there, many of the App Store's two million apps are bringing in revenue for small software developers and have brought us apps that for just a couple of dollars make a difference in our day-to-day work - like these apps the teams at Gizmodo and Lifehacker use.
A great example of what the App Store enabled is the Comic life app, which was developed in Melbourne by Plasq. The screenshot and annotation app they created, Skitch, was acquired by Evernote, netting the developers a handsome payday. And one of their other apps, Comic Life, was bundled with all new Macs for a while. That's a success story that was enabled by the App Store.
It's also arguable that the early success of the App Store is what drove Google to create their Play Store a year later. And that's a really good thing as competition is what has driven both Apple and Google to improve their respective apps stores, clean out the useless junk (do we really need 1000 different fart apps?) and make it easy for us to try new apps out.
It's hard to remember a time when we didn't all have smartphones and a world of inexpensive software just a tap away. But here we are.