App Store once displayed app download count, but Apple removed it at developers’ request

App Store

Many people are oblivious to the fact that Apple’s App Store once used to actually display the download count for all apps and games. Unfortunately, this undeniably cool feature (at least as far as end-users are concerned) had to be removed because the developers objected.

Talking App Store

The Wall Street Journal newspaper and the technology news site The Information have jointly published the full version of Steve Jobs’s 2018 on-the-record conversation with Nick Wingfield, then a reporter for The Wall Street Journal.

The late Apple co-founder invited Wingfield to the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California for an interview shortly after the App Store opened for business a decade ago.

The reporter conducted his chat with the technology pioneer on August 7, 2008, about one month following the App Store’s debut. An audio recording, along with the full transcript of the thought-provoking interview, is now available for the first time.

App Store download count

At one point in the interview, Jobs explains that download counts for apps and games were live on App Store when viewed from an iPhone, but only on the first day. Afterwards, the download count disappeared to never resurface on the store again.

Jobs explained that Apple had to remove the feature because the developers objected.

“We actually were putting the number of downloads on every app initially, if you went and looked, but we were asked to take that down by the developers,” the CEO explained.

App Store explodes

In the interview, Jobs goes on to explain that the leadership team was taken aback having learned that Apple paid $21 million to developers in the first 30 days after App Store launched.

“Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a billion dollar marketplace at some point in time. This doesn’t happen very often,” Jobs quipped after being asked to speculate on the store’s potential.

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He wouldn’t even dare predict that App Store would zoom past the magic $1 billion threshold in a foreseeable future, adding, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software.”

I would not trust any of our predictions because reality has so far exceeded them by such a great degree that we’ve been reduced to spectators just like you, watching this amazing phenomenon and just doing our best to try to help everybody get their apps done and get them on the store.

Apple said at WWDC 2018 that App Store developers made a cumulative $100 billion.

An iPhone sales vehicle

This bit about the App Store business model is also interesting:

The way we think about this is that App Store is to iPhone like iTunes is to iPod. Just like with iPod, where we enhanced it with an Internet service to bring content to it, we’re doing the same thing with iPhone.

We’re enhancing it with an Internet service to deliver content right to the phone. In this case, since we already bring the iTunes music content to the phone, we’re bringing apps.

It’s the same exact strategy as iPod: enhance the device with Internet-delivered content. Beyond iTunes, we can wirelessly deliver the content right on the device, without a PC. We can automatically update the apps. It’s standing on the shoulders of iTunes.

What are your thoughts on Steve’s early views on App Store? And while we’re at it, do you think having a real-time download count listed on all app and game pages benefit end users?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.