June 29, 2007, the day the first-generation iPhone
was released, is often considered the birthday of the modern smartphone. And while that may be true in terms of its (at the time) revolutionary touchscreen user interface, another, less noted event probably played an even bigger role in shaping today’s smartphone experience.
Ten years ago, on March 6, 2008, Apple unveiled the first iPhone software development kit
(SDK), opening up its famously walled garden and paving the way for today’s app economy. “We’re excited about creating a vibrant third-party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at the time, illustrating that even Jobs, surely among the keenest of optimists, couldn’t imagine apps becoming as big
as they eventually did.
Instead of “thousands of applications” the App Store
now has more than two million apps and many third-party developers have made a fortune building apps for Apple’s mobile ecosystem. As our chart illustrates, iOS developers have earned more than $86 billion since the App Store’s inception in 2008, making March 6, 2008 the starting point of what has essentially been the gold rush of the early 21st century.