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Given how iPhones dominate consumer electronics culture today, it's hard to believe they didn't exist prior to 2007. But that's when Steve Jobs introduced the first version of the device. And in July 2008, Apple launched the App Store with just 500 apps. Now that number has increased more than 1,000-fold, and apps embrace every category you can imagine, from games to GPS, and social networking to security.
The App Store turns four years old on July 10, and, despite reports that certain apps are experiencing issues at startup due to a "mystery glitch," it is a milestone that we must recognize. Thus, we're marking the occasion by rounding up all sorts of stats, facts, and trivia on the almighty smartphone app — for iOS, and sometimes Android as well.
Most of us know Nielsen as the New York-based company behind TV ratings. But Nielsen tracks all sorts of data, including stats surrounding what it calls the "Appnation." The Appnation data gathered between 2011 and 2012 reveals some startling insights. According to May 2012 figures, the number of Android and iOS users has more than doubled (from 38 million to 84 million); the average number of apps on a device has jumped 28% (from 32 to 41); and the amount of time users spent with apps each day has climbed, too, though more slowly (from 37 minutes in 2011 to 39 minutes in 2012).
Every week, Apple releases its list of top paid and free apps, though it stays somewhat secretive about sales and download figures. Here's what we can tell you, though: For the week ending July 2, 2012, the top five paid iPhone apps were: 1. Temple Run: Brave, 2. Where's My Perry?, 3. Angry Birds Space, 4. WhatsApp Messenger, and 5. Asphalt 7: Heat. The top five free apps include: 1. Chrome, 2. Flow Free, 3. Escape Bear, 4. Madcoaster, and 5. Talking Ted.
With so many free apps on the market, most of us might cringe at the thought of spending more than $5 on one. But at the top of Apple's price range, there's a $999.99 app which makes the cost of a decked-out iPad pale in comparison. In 2010, there was only one app to hit that price level. But today, at least 30 apps top out at nearly a grand.
BarMax CA is one such $1,000 app, as it offers a comprehensive California Bar Exam review course prepared with help from Harvard Law School alumni. Once you pass the exam, you might want to celebrate by ordering VIP Black, the so-called "Millionaire's App" that has partnered with Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, Virgin Limited Edition, Firmdale Hotels, and other premium brands. A word of warning, though: "Upon download, prospective members will be required to certify they are High Net Worth Individuals with assets and/or income in excess of £1 million." Got that?
The most infamous $1,000 app in App Store history is I Am Rich, which can be summed up in one sentence: a glowing red gem and an icon that, when pressed, revealed this priceless "secret mantra": "I am rich/ I deserv [sic] it/ I am good,/ healthy &/ successful." Developer Armin Heinrich actually sold eight units, netting $5,600 before Apple pulled the plug after one day in 2008. Not that Heinrich didn't warn people: The App Store description plainly stated, "It's a work of art with no hidden function at all."
Apps have come a long, long way since that original list of 500. The website 148apps.biz tracks iOS development news and counts 865,800 apps approved for the U.S. store, of which 679,348 are currently active. The total number of active publishers in the U.S. App Store now tops 170,000. Of the 280,531 free apps, 48,134 are games, which amounts to slightly more than 17%.
The app search engine Chomp did such a great job tracking trends and rankings that Apple bought them out in February 2012. Just prior to that Chomp published its App Search Analytics report in January, which revealed that the top search queries for iOS users were: "free apps,", "free," "adventure games," "free games," and "puzzle games." For Android users, the top search terms were: "free," "games," "fun games," "adventure games," and "free games." Looks like Android and iOS users have something in common after all.
About all that can be said for Hold The Button is that it's free. Considering that it could tie up your touchscreen for hours on end, you might want to think twice before downloading it. Like those "hands on a hardbody" car giveaway contests where people try to keep their mitts on a vehicle for as long as humanly possible, the object of Hold The Button is to keep your finger depressed on a spot on your iPhone screen for as long as you can. That's it. While that might be someone's idea of a good time, Business Insider put it on its list of "11 Stupid iPhone Apps That We Can't Believe Are Real."
Business Insider also reports that Design This Home, found on its list of the 11 top-grossing apps, now generates a staggering $1 million per month. This kid-friendly game lets users design their dream homes, and although it's free, it successfully positions in-app purchases; coins or "cash" can set users back up to $19.99.