What a short, strange trip it's been. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store shattered the 10 billion application download milestone over the weekend, and what's most impressive isn't the sheer volume of apps consumed by iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users--it's that Apple reached the 10 billion download benchmark in only about 30 months' time, in the process revolutionizing how mobile software is distributed, purchased and consumed. The App Store now looms so large over the mobile industry that it's easy to forget the digital marketplace didn't even open for business until July 11, 2008--at that time, it featured just 552 iPhone applications, and today, the total tops 350,000, with developers submitting more than 1,000 new apps each week. And with Apple selling 16.24 million iPhones and 7.33 million iPads in its fiscal first quarter alone--not to mention the iPhone expanding to Verizon Wireless and its 93 million U.S. subscribers next month--the iOS platform is just getting started.
But the App Store's brief run hasn't been without controversy and turmoil. In the two-plus years since the store launched, Apple has alienated dozens of developers by purging their apps, often without warning or explanation--it's also skirmished with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), waged war on Adobe Systems and run afoul of the Federal Communications Commission. Although the history of the App Store is still being written, the 10 billionth download seems like the perfect occasion to revisit the key events and turning points that led to this moment. Click here to stroll down short-term memory lane with FierceDeveloper as we trace the history and evolution of the App Store--and be sure to stick around for the next 10 billion. -Jason