Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 21st Oct 2013 22:33 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

The French Minitel never ceases to amaze me.

In 1984 the government allowed developers to create services for the Minitel. The government took a 30% cut and passed the rest on to developers (sound familiar?) creating the world's first app store. From a user's perspective using apps on the Minitel was frictionless - you were just billed for what you used through your phone bill.


How big was this app store? In the nineties it was pulling in over a billion USD a year! This is an astronomical sum when you consider France's population size. Though the crossover point is near, the Minitel in its lifetime paid out more to developers than Apple has to iOS developers to date. Companies would advertise their apps in the subway, on highway billboards, and on television.

Amazing. This could very well be the first application store, something many people think is a new phenomenon invented by Apple.

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article got it all wrong
by puenktchen on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 09:11 UTC
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That wasn't an app store but content the service provider sold. The Minitel was a dumb terminal, it couldn't run any kind of apps. And it wasn't something only the french had either, most western european countries had a similar services which where even interconnected. You could connect to german BTX and check your bank account on Minitel. But the french PTT gave the terminals away for free while you had to buy or rent them elsewhere, which explains the far bigger success of Minitel.

And please, how did the free market win here? The free market alternatives were online services like Compuserve. Minitel had ten times more customers in a far smaller market. And such private online communities
died much faster as the WWW/internet did grow. Which wasn't a free market invention either. The market sucks hard at creating new infrastructures, they are build up by the state or state sponsored monopolies.

And I don't see what this has to do with Apple. Well they had their own fail online service back then, but you aren't talking about that.

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