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The timeline above shows some of the various app stores that have been started over the years. Some have grown in popularity, and some remain popular with a smaller crowd.
Digital distribution of content has become popular over the last several years. First it was a boom in music downloads from the late 90s on, then games and other forms of media started following. Now you can download just about anything, legally.
Apple definitely didn’t invent the app store, not by a long shot. Still, they are experts when it comes to taking an existing concept or idea and turning it into something for the masses. At least that’s what their track record shows.
These days, it’s all about Apps. Smartphones and tablets need Apps in order to stay relevant it seems. The major companies all have their own answers to digital distribution. It’s a great place to be as a consumer, because there are tons of options and prices can be kept low for a lot of the software. Who knew that when the iPhone was announced that it could become a gaming platform to be featured even on the larger sites like IGN and 1up? It’s happened, and more developers and publishers are looking at mobile gaming thanks to its low development cost and easy means of distribution. They don’t have to do much other than send it in to Apple or whatever other storefront they decide to sell with. No more worrying about retail packaging or shelf space on their end, and prices are often kept down because it cuts out a lot of the middlemen.
Before we head out, we want to throw in a mention for Steam. Though they may not be what we typically think of as an App Store, they have been amazing and very successful with providing gaming content to users. They launched in 2003, and continue to move forward. Our own editor recalls a story of how he picked up Portal several years ago on release. As he gears up for the release of Portal 2, he figured he would give the original another go. He was able to get it again with no problem, but this time on his Mac. Nice.