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  • Writer's pictureDoug Pittman

A Brief History of Mobile Apps 📲

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

1994 – IBM’s Simon phone predates the iPhone and Android as the first-ever smartphone. This phone offered 10 built-in apps including Calculator, Address Book, Mail, Notepad, and Sketchpad.

Fun Fact – Snake was the first game app introduced to the mobile phone.

2002 – RIM took smartphones a step further with the Blackberry 5810. This phone had more unique built-in apps like Ring Tone Editor and To-Do Lists, but most importantly paved the way for innovation as the first phone with wireless email. This was also the first device to implement push notifications.

Fun Fact – The Blackberry received its name as the creators thought the QWERTY board looked like berry seeds.

2007 – First Apple iPhone release with preloaded apps never before seen – Maps, Weather, and Photo Gallery. Soon after this release, Apple made a revolutionary move by providing a SDK for app development companies. This was the first moment of allowance for third party apps on a mobile device.

Fun Fact – The first icon for Maps on the iPhone pictured the highlighted route directing a driver to drive off an overpass.

2008 – The first mobile app store was introduced by Apple with 500 apps of varying verticals. The thought behind this release, “Developers can reach every single iPhone user through (one) store.” The app store hit it out of the park with over 10 million downloads in the first 3 days of launch with 75% of those apps being free. Android Market launched several months later with 50 apps.

Fun Fact – The word “app” was voted Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society in 2010.

2012 – Google took a huge step forward by directing all of its content into one place – the Google Play Store. This rebranded the Android Market, Google Music, Google Books, and its video offering into a single marketplace.

Fun Fact – DrawSomething, a Pictionary game app, reached 1 million users in 9 days: a feat that took Facebook 9 months to achieve.

2014 – Apps are now integrated into many types of mobile devices from watches to tablets, and even televisions. The majority of these applications are entertainment.

Fun Fact – 63% of iOS revenue in 2015 came from gaming apps.

2017 – App downloads reach an all-time high with 268 million downloads for the year and revenue of over 30 billion dollars. Most major brands now see the value of apps and begin outlining separate marketing campaigns for mobile. mCommerce is quickly rising.

Fun Fact – Apps are used more often than websites.

2018 – App cards are the new trend that mobile device users are raving about. The most imperative information from apps are viewable in an easy to read and scroll through format on cards hosted on the home screen of a mobile device. This tactic increases engagement by 38% for the apps that implement the trend. It also is a huge win for developers who can easily provide content for cross-channel campaigns.

Fun Fact – The first app to ever reach a billion downloads is TikTok. So, pay attention when your kids are making those crazy videos – they know what’s up.

2019 – Instant apps are now a thing. Users can access the features of their favorite brand’s app without having to install the actual app. This technology is the force of innovation behind a society that demands instant gratification and options for every contact touchpoint in the consumer journey. How will apps keep up?

Fun Fact – Samsung is more than a mobile device creator, they have over 80 different business ventures including the construction of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.

Mobile applications have come a long way and continue to press the boundaries of what people are capable of wielding in technology. The newest systems and ideas are most often applied to the mobile device industry before any other avenue. Does your business have an app? Are you seeing the rewards the big boys see? If not, look into working with an app enhancing software to captivate your users for years to come.


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