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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certainly not first
by koffie on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 01:13 UTC
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Apple certainly was't the first. While I don't agree that they never invent stuff themselves - I won't go into that - in a lot of cases they indeed are not "first". But being first is not important, being the first that does it right in your field is, and that's something Apple is good at. They were the first to do an app store "right" on mobile. Just like Minitel did in France, and Steam does with PC Games. Not surprisingly, also success stories.

And all 3 used the same formula:
For the user:
- Lower the barrier of entrance.
- Make it simple to use.
- Have sensible policies.
For the developer:
- Easy to develop for
- offload payment handling.
- offer some sort of copy protection.
- let developers extend and popularise your platform

Remember, stuff like allowing to re-download at time if you happened to delete something or allowing installation/usage on multiple or newer devices by linking the ownership to an identity was not really common practice before Valve's Steam and Apple's App Store popularised this and made it the de-facto standard. I remember good old windows CE, Symbian or Blackberry software requiring a license key per device you want to install it on...

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