Adjust’s CEO on the 15th anniversary of Apple’s App Store
Throw it back to 2008. Instagram didn’t exist, Facebook did, and generative AI was the stuff of science fiction. But this was the year Apple launched the App Store. Commemorating the 15th anniversary of the launch of the App Store, Artem Dogtiev, Head of Content at Business of Apps and Simon “Bobby” Dussart, CEO of Adjust, reflect in Business of App’s podcast #154 on the App Store’s evolution since its 2008 debut.
Artem asks Bobby the following questions, covering the App Store’s launch, its possible saturation point, and whether or not app developers today can successfully launch a new app on the App Store given its 1.76M apps. We’ve recapped the seven questions you don’t want to miss, and have a sound bite from the podcast below.
1. What did you think about the App Store launch back then?
“My main memory at that time was, ‘Wow, this is just so much easier to install an app. I got this one place. I know the app has been checked and that it’s safe.’
Interestingly, in the past, apps could be installed via CD-ROMs and be physically exchanged. The real thing that the App Store changed is that it centralized all of it into one digital spot. So it became much easier to download, install, and use apps. And this centralization is what really helped apps to explode. At the same time, we need to mention the iPhone with mobile apps. We cannot separate the two. This introduction of new hardware and software is what drove app production.”
2. At what point did you see the big potential for the App Store?
“When you have computers, you plug into your Wi-fi network or your LAN cable for a strong connection. But on mobile, you had to have a network developed to sustain downloading apps. For example, if you look at a streaming app now, a GPS app, or a fitness app tracking your steps. All these stream live data between a terminal, your mobile phone, and a server. These apps rely on connectivity that is strong enough to make the data flow seamlessly.
I remember, all of a sudden, you had mobile carriers that went from charging per minute per data. That’s when the incentive came into play for the App Store. The company understood that if it built the best data pipeline structure, the connection would be better, and more apps would be there. And thus, more data would be consumed, and everyone will make more. That’s when I thought, ‘Ah, the App Store is going somewhere.’”
3. How do you see the evolution of the App Store?
“I think it goes back to building newer hardware. As soon as your hardware is able to sustain better connectivity and longer battery life, it increases tenfold what an app can do. Tracking your steps, journeys through a map app, listening to an audiobook, and watching a movie are all possible without draining your battery. All of these improvements go with various iterations of the App Store and the iPhone.
I don’t know if one specific iteration stands out, as each brought incremental improvements to apps. For example, a better iPhone camera significantly impacted apps like Instagram and Snapchat. And now AR can be incorporated, and we can all go out and catch Pokémon.”
4. Has the App Store reached saturation?
“I don’t know if it’s saturated yet, to be honest. I think the developers’ sales and billings growth of the App Store has gone up somewhere around 25-30% over the past three or four years.
(Fact check: Bobby’s right! Developer billings and sales increased by 27% YOY in 2020, 27% YOY in 2021, and 29% YOY in 2022.)
This isn’t just pandemic-driven; it also happened in 2022. Naturally, it’s much harder to get into a market that’s already packed with heavy hitters. But I don’t think the App Store has reached its saturation point. The world is big, and maybe it’s saturated in one market but not another.”
5. Can marketers still successfully launch apps on the App Store?
“It’s definitely still possible! As I’ve said, the world is a big place with many users, and you have a lot of different markets in which you can play. Of course, it’s not the same as 2012 when the App Store was blowing up, and you had maybe one other competitor. No, it’s different today, but at the same time, developers can learn from what happened in the past.
We still have apps that launch and go viral relatively fast. But today’s developers have that historical data on what’s worked and what’s failed to build on. Additionally, they have marketing methods previously not available before, like influencers. In short, it’s a matter of execution now. The opportunity is still there for new, scrappy developers and bigger companies alike.”
6. Apple has gone from desktop to mobile to spatial computing (Vision Pro). Thoughts?
“Again, this is simply new hardware that Apple is putting out again. We see it with connected TV (CTV), which is a newer channel for apps to be developed, for ads to be shown, and for developers to go and invest in. And so, if the market is there and if you have enough adoption, you will have apps on spatial computing-powered tech. App developers tend to go to any platform with enough traction with users.
And specifically, with the VR headset tech, they offer a new perspective on building applications. So, as soon as you have a big enough user base, there’s a case to build apps for this. I mean, there are already games for these VR headsets, right? The market isn’t as big as mobile or desktop, but it’s still early, and we can anticipate growth here.”
7. Being in the digital space for over a decade, what would you like to change in the market?
“There needs to be a shift from deep dive analysis to strategies, and let me explain what I mean by this. Ten years ago, many people wanted to understand the app space, but that was hard. They didn’t know how to reconcile all their data from various platforms. So, we were doing deep dives with our clients on all our datasets to understand the logic behind it. But now, the diagnostic system is much more mature, and people are used to how things work.
Now Adjust clients know how deep data dives work and trust that the data is clean. They want to know ‘How can Adjust optimize my day? How can it help me make decisions in terms of ad spend or even my product?’ (For examples of how Adjust does this, read How to stay on top of your app campaigns in 2023.)
At Adjust, we’re trying to make your day less complicated by pointing out the good, the bad, and what needs to be done. And you can even let us fix things for you and automate it all for you, but it’s up to you.
My take is that most of your energy as an app developer should be spent building your product or improving your marketing if you’re an app marketer. This is the creativity part. And this focus will help their apps stand out on the App Store, especially if they work with a measurement provider that enables them to do this.”
So, would you like to partner with Adjust, the mobile measurement and analytics suite that’s grown in tandem with the App Store? Having over a decade in the industry, we’ve built a robust platform that provides app marketers and developers with the visibility, tools, and insights they need to maximize their app marketing. Schedule your personalized demo now.
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