What is the Apple App Store

The Apple App Store is a digital distribution platform where customers can buy and download digital software and applications. Apps (short for applications) are software tools that provide additional functionality to an operating system. Apps purchased from the App Store are stored in iCloud for easy access from any signed-in device. Apple maintains that it holds a trademark on the term “app store” but the term is used to reference any platform where apps are sold. Examples of other app stores are Google's Google Play, the Amazon Appstore, Blackberry World (which will shut down at the end of 2019) and Microsoft's Windows Store.


Apple’s App Store is big business for the company. In the first week of 2015, the App Store had $500 million in app and in-app revenue with Apple earning a 30% commission. During the week starting December 24, 2017, Apple says it saw more than $890 million worth of App Store purchases in just a seven-day period ($300 million on January 1, 2018, alone). Since its launch, Apple says that the App Store has generated over $70 billion in revenue for its developers. Apps can be created by any developer but must be approved by Apple in order to be sold in the App Store. Developers whose app is refused can try to sell it on Cydia — a marketplace for apps for jailbroken iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.

Apple App Store History

The Apple App Store opened on July 10, 2008, the day before the launch of the iPhone 3G. Apple’s first app store was for iOS but was later expanded to provide apps for Macs with the App Store macOS in early 2011. One of many significant changes to Apple's App Store came in 2014 when attention from European regulators caused the company to change apps listed as "free" to "get" to reflect that some of them included in-app purchases. That labeling practice became standard in 2017.

Apple App Store: Publishing an App

Developers must pay a $99 annual fee to access the Apple Developer Program (waived for nonprofits and governments). App publishers must submit their app to a testing process, adhere to Apple's rules and guidelines, and meet a number of prerequisites. Some prerequisites include:

  • Getting an App ID or application identifier for your app.
  • Obtaining a distribution certificate, which enables an app developer to create a provisioning profile.
  • Creating an iOS provisioning profile to distribute an app via the App Store.
  • Building settings.
  • Setting a deployment target (important to get this right the first time).

Developers should also consider basic information such as a name, pricing and availability, metadata and ratings. For a guide on the App Store submission process, click here