As the App Store turns five years old, we look at how it changed the way we find and use software.

App Store @ 5

In the time it has taken you to read this sentence, around 3,000 apps will have been downloaded from Apple's App Store.

As it celebrates its fifth birthday, the software repository for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is continuing to expand at an unprecedented rate and in its short lifetime has changed the way we view software forever.

Back in 2007, Apple launched the iPhone. While it was certainly revolutionary, it can be argued that the real revolution didn't come until one year later with the launch of the App Store.

The idea was a simple, yet vital to the success of the iPhone. Remember that at teh time Apple was the minnow, the underdog. Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG were the big players at the time, and with Apple launching a very expensive new product, it needed the App Store to make it successful.

More than the superb build quality and radical all-touchscreen design, it was the easy and immediate availability of apps which would make the iPhone become the must-have gadget of the past five years.

10 July, 2008

The App Store was launched on 10 July, 2008 with a catalogue of 500 apps. It opened for business the following day with the launch if the second iPhone - the iPhone 3GS - which came with pre-loaded with iOS 2.0 and support for the App Store.

During its first weekend, the App Store recorded 10 million downloads - an early indicator of the phenomenal growth it was to record over the next five years.

A quarter of the apps available in the Store were free with 90% costing less than $9.99 and according to then Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the launch of the App Store was "the biggest of his career."

Cash cow

As well as being a huge opportunity for developers, the App Store is a huge cash cow for Apple, with the Cupertino-based company taking a flat 30% cut of all App Store transactions - earning Apple over $4bn in revenue so far.

Prior to the launch of the App Store, software was something which came on CDs and DVDs, or prior to that floppy disks. It was something which was not readily available and which was difficult to discover.

The App Store changed all that. Today, no one takes about software or programmes, they talk about apps. All smartphone platforms from Android to BlackBerry now have their own app stores and even desktop operating systems like Mac OS X and Windows 8 have followed the App Store system of letting users easily discover and download software straight from their PCs.

It has allowed small, independent developers to flourish. Huge amounts of money can be earned from a single app, with the majority of the top grossing apps on the App Store at the moment in the freemium category, where the app is free but users pay in-app for upgrades.

Mind boggling

But it is not only games which have flourished. The App Store has helped mobilise social media, with Facebook and Twitter now seeing huge amounts of traffic coming through smartphone and tablet devices.

The figures related to the App Store are simply mind boggling. The 50 billionth app was downloaded in May, and there are now over 900,000 apps available in the App Store with 93% of these being downloaded at least once every month - a fact which is vital to developers who are looking to maximise their return on development.

Another major achievement for the App Store is the fact that in five years it has yet to record a single case of malware, something which led renowned security analyst Mikko Hypponen to call the App Store the "biggest security innovation of the last decade."

While iOS may no longer the number one smartphone platform in the world, the App Store is still the king when it comes to content.