How Jailbreakers Helped Create the App Store

The Associated Press seems to have gotten its hands on the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. The highly anticipated book is due out later this month, but excerpts have been surfacing on the web over the last 48 hours.

One of the more interesting tidbits that has come to light is a passage regarding Jobs’ thoughts and comments on third-party applications. Apparently at one point, Jobs thought that web apps were the wave of the future…

Here’s what Job’s said about iPhone apps back in 2007:

“The full Safari engine is inside of iPhone. And so, you can write amazing Web 2.0 and Ajax apps that look exactly and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone. And these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services. They can make a call, they can send an email, they can look up a location on Google Maps. And guess what? There’s no SDK that you need! You’ve got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today. So developers, we think we’ve got a very sweet story for you. You can begin building your iPhone apps today.”

With no third-party native app support from Apple, the hacker community took it upon themselves to make it happen. By the Fall of 2007, jailbreakers had come up with a method to install native software on the iPhone. And Apple took note.

According to the Huffington Post:

“Apple board member Art Levinson told Isaacson that he phoned Jobs “half a dozen times to lobby for the potential of the apps,” but, according to Isaacson, “Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to figure out all the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers.”

Between the jailbreak community’s efforts, and web apps never really gaining traction, Jobs caved. In late 2007 he announced that an iPhone SDK would be available to developers early the following year. Now look at apps and what they’ve become.

Where would the iPhone have been without the App Store?