Apple's Steve Jobs (or just God, to many of us) told the Wall Street Journal this week that more than 60 million iPhone applications have been downloaded from the company's website so far in about the one month that they have been available.
At this pace the company stands to bank at least 360 million dollars a year in new revenue from the AppStore. Jobs expects it to be a billion dollar marketplace one day adding, "I've never seen anything like this in my career for software."
Let me back up a step for non-Apple people which, inexplicably is most of you.
You've seen or heard of the iPhone, right? Well, an Apple App is a program you download that lives on your phone's desktop. It's like having a bunch of little internets on your phone working all at the same time.
So you can have, say, the USA Today news stories delivered continuously on your phone, or a permanent Soduku game at your fingertips, or an eBook reader loaded with all seven Harry Potter books if you want.
There are hundreds of applications, some made by Apple but many offered by third parties. Some are free, some are a dollar, some quite a bit more.
So far the most notorious App is one that Apple allowed, then deleted from availability after only eight sales. Here's the curious story, edited from something called www.CRN.com (links within the story are theirs.)
"Earlier this week the I Am Rich application went up, commanding a $999.99 price tag, the most a developer can charge through Apple's App Store. The program essentially loads a screen saver onto the Apple iPhone to remind users and alert others that the user has money to throw around willy-nilly. The 'status symbol,' once downloaded, does nothing but load a ruby red icon on the home screen, with the subtext I Am Rich. When the user activates the program, a large, glowing red gem appears. That's all.
When I Am Rich first appeared in the App Store on Tuesday, the applications information page on iTunes read like this: "The red icon on your iPhone or iPod Touch always reminds you (and others when you show it to them) that you were rich enough to afford this. It's a work of art with no hidden function at all."
Apple introduced the App Store last month to coincide with the release of the Apple iPhone 3G. The App Store is designed to let iPhone users download third-party applications and lets developers sell the applications they've created.
As of Friday, the I Am Rich application was no longer available in the App Store, much to the chagrin of Armin Heinrich, I Am Rich's developer.
'I have no idea why they did it and am not aware of any violation of the rules to sell software on the App Store,' Heinrich told the Los Angeles Times in an e-mail.
The Times, however, said Apple was too slow to remove the high-dollar application. Eight people —six from the U.S., one from Germany and one from France— shelled out the dough for I Am Rich within the first 24 hours it was available.
Posts on several public forums and Web pages, however, call into question the validity of those purchases. In one instance, a screen shot of an App Store review, which has been circulating the Web, shows that one user mistakenly dropped the $1,000 for I Am Rich thinking it was a joke.
"I saw this app with a few friends and we jokingly clicked 'buy' thinking it was a joke, to see what would happen," the upset I Am Rich owner wrote. "THIS IS NO JOKE. DO NOT BUY THIS APP AND APPLE PLEASE REMOVE THIS FROM THE APP STORE."