“Apple recently marked the 10th anniversary of the App Store — its online vehicle for distributing iPhone and iPad applications — with a retrospective on its website, noting that developers have earned more than $100 billion through the store over its lifespan,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

“Shortly after the App Store opened for business a decade ago, Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs was thrilled to have paid just $21 million to developers in the first 30 days after its launch,” WSJ reports. “In early August 2008, he invited Nick Wingfield, then a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, to the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., for an on-the-record interview.”

WSJ reports, “In the interview, which Mr. Jobs allowed to be recorded, the Apple chief predicted that the mobile business could one day become far larger—forecasts that, in hindsight, were not bold enough.”

‘The Mobile Industry’s Never Seen Anything Like This’: An Interview With Steve Jobs at the App Store’s Launch

(click to play)

Steve Jobs: The way we think about this is that the App Store is to iPhone like iTunes is to iPod. Just like with the iPod, where we enhanced it with an internet service to bring content to it, we’re doing the same thing with the iPhone. We’re enhancing it with an internet service to deliver content right to the phone. In this case, since we already bring the iTunes music content to the phone, we’re bringing applications.

…We didn’t expect it to be this big. The mobile industry’s never seen anything like this. To be honest, neither has the computer industry. [laughs] …No. 1, if you talk to developers that are developing for the iPhone, what you’ll hear from them unanimously is two things. There’s never been a mobile platform that’s been this powerful before… The second thing we’re hearing is that the development environment is far more advanced than they had ever seen on a mobile platform before. The APIs are in another league, the whole development cycle, the debug tools, etc. That’s just to develop the app. Once your app is developed, to be able to submit it to Apple and have us take care of all of the marketing, wireless distribution, billing and all the transactional stuff for you, and deliver it right on the handset, that doesn’t exist today… It’s taking the iPhone into a territory that most mobile devices have never gone into before. I think that the developers are sensing something really different here than has ever existed…

Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a billion dollar marketplace at some point in time. This doesn’t happen very often. A whole new billion dollar market opens up. 360 million in the first 30 days, I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software… I think we’re not quite in the same league as music, but I think this is really significant. Who knows, in the fullness of time? I don’t know.

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Even Steve Jobs underestmated the immensity of what the App Store would soon become.

Oh, BTW, around the 20-minute mark in the embedded audio above, Steve mentions reading MacDailyNews:

MR. WINGFIELD: I think there was a story I read a couple days ago about some developers bringing the price down on the apps. Have you noticed that?

MR. JOBS: Yes. There was an article written in CNET. I believe it was CNET. No. It was on MacDailyNews, where somebody was saying this was a terrible thing for developers. They cited this one company, Jirbo. I just copied down. Did you see Jirbo’s reply?

MR. WINGFIELD: No. No, I didn’t.

MR. JOBS: I copied it down. I thought you might want to take a look at this. I found this really fun. You’ll see what I meant. The founder replied and said, “We couldn’t agree more with your take. Jirbo sees the App Store…” because the magazine said this is ridiculous, or the website [Dow Jones Newswires], “…App Store is the biggest boon in mobile history and we love Apple for it. Our experience is actually the exact opposite. That is, the iPhone halo effect actually has reached us and in fact exceeded any of our wildest expectations. Our highest grossing app is actually our most expensive, Paper Football, at $4.99.”

“The app store has revolutionized mobile. We have close to two million downloads in about three weeks. About 60,000 of them are paid. I’m hoping you can set the record straight that the App Store is providing companies with never before imagined distribution and revenue.”

The MacDailyNews article to which Jobs referred is here:
Software developers drop prices in Apple’s App Store (updated) – August 6, 2008