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Window-Shopping at Apple's App Emporium

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jul 10, 2008 2:56 PM PT

Apple has officially launched its App Store, an online marketplace built into iTunes and integrated with Apple's forthcoming 3G iPhone and iPhone 2.0 software update. The store boasts 500 applications, 125 of which are free.

Window-Shopping at Apple's App Emporium

While some iPhone users are already downloading applications, it's not yet easy to do. The reason: While the App Store is live, presumably to provide access to new 3G iPhone owners immediately following their purchases in whatever time zone they happen to be located, most of the world has not yet been able to either buy a new 3G iPhone or upgrade their existing iPhones with the 2.0 software. And yet, based on wildly active blog chatter, plenty of New Zealanders are buying iPhone applications -- because in New Zealand, it's already July 11.

How to Get the Apps

While most current-model iPhone users will opt to wait until Friday to update their iPhones via Apple's mostly automatic software update process, early adopters have found a couple of different builds of the iPhone 2.0 software available for download on Apple's servers. The installation process requires several steps, wipes the iPhone clean, and requires a restore of the user's data from a Mac or PC. It seems to be working well so far, but it's not for the faint of heart.

Those who have updated their iTunes application to 7.7 can view, buy and download iPhone applications, though they're unusable until the device has the iPhone 2.0 software installed. Still, there are clearly a lot of apps for users to look through.

18 Categories

There are 18 categories of apps, such as Business, Education, Entertainment, Finance, Games, Healthcare & Fitness, Lifestyle, Music, News, Sports and Weather. Not surprisingly, games have been doing well.

"Super Monkey Ball" has been the most-purchased app, with "MLB.com At Bat," "Enigmo," "OmniFocus," "Cro-Mag Rally," and "Texas Hold'Em" also hanging out in the App Store top 10.

"Apple's iPhone and iPod touch open up the world of games to an entirely new audience," noted David Cobb, vice president of product development for Sega.

"The touch and tilt controls are natural and easy to learn, making gaming even more inviting, creative and rewarding. Super Monkey Ball takes advantage of these defining aspects and offers consumers an extremely accessible, imaginative and fun game experience," he added.

An app simply called "Remote" has been holding the no. 1 spot among free applications, and it basically lets an iPhone or iPod touch remotely control iTunes. Social networking apps are also making a strong showing and include AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), Facebook, Twitterific and MySpace Mobile.

"iPhone is one of the most popular ways for people to enjoy Facebook on the go, and we're excited to deliver a great native application via the App Store," noted Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

"Facebook is even cooler on the 3G iPhone, with the ability to discover friends nearby, or to effortlessly take pictures and upload them instantly to their Facebook account."

App Store Idea Not Really New

"The idea of a place where customers may buy applications for a device is not new. Carriers have been offering these things off their decks for years -- for example, Verizon Wireless's Get It Now, AT&T's Media Mall, T-Mobile's Tzones, etc.," William Ho, research director of wireless services for Current Analysis, told MacNewsWorld.

Still, allowing third-party software on the iPhone will likely help the platform.

"The fact that Apple has an App store and the release of its iPhone SDK (software development kit) can spur innovative applications and draw developers to create new applications, thereby increasing Apple loyalty and stickiness," Ho explained.

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