An application store (sometimes also referred to as an app store, app marketplace, or variations) is a type of digital distribution platform for application software or apps, often provided as a component of an operating system on a Desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Application stores typically take the form of an online store, where users can browse through different categories and genres of applications (such as for example, productivity, multimedia, and games), view information and reviews of then, purchase it (if necessary), and then automatically download and install the application on their device. Some application stores may also include a system to automatically remove an installed program from devices under certain conditions, such as to protect the user against a malicious program.
Many application stores are curated and regulated by their owners, requiring that submissions go through an approval process where applications are inspected for compliance with certain guidelines (such as those for quality and content), and also require that a commission be collected on each sale of a paid application. As a result of their ease of use and prominence on mobile devices, application stores rose in prominence in at the beginning of the 21st century with their adoption by the iOS and Android mobile operating systems. Despite this, similar systems for application distribution have existed in some operating systems (particularly GNU/Linux distributions since the early 1990s), through package management systems and their graphical front-ends.
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The Electronic AppWrapper  was the first commercial electronic software distribution catalog to collectively manage encryption and provide digital rights for apps and digital media (issue #3 was the AppStore originally demonstrated to Steve Jobs at NeXTWorld EXPO). While a Senior Editor at NeXTWORLD Magazine, Simson Garfinkel rated The Electronic AppWrapper 4 3/4 Cubes (out of 5), in his formal review. Paget's Electronic AppWrapper was named a finalist in the highly competitive InVision Multimedia '93 awards in January, 1993 and won the Best of Breed award for Content and Information at NeXTWORLD Expo in May, 1993.
Many Linux distributions and other Unix-like systems provide a tool known as a package manager, which allows a user to automatically manage the software installed on their systems (including both operating system components and third-party software) using command line tools—new software (and the packages required for its proper operation) can be retrieved from local or remote mirrors and automatically installed in a single process. Notable package managers in Unix-like operating systems have included pkgsrc, Debian's APT, YUM, and Gentoo's Portage (which unlike most package managers, distributes packages containing source code that is automatically compiled instead of executables). Some package managers have graphical front-end software which can be used to browse available packages and perform operations, such as Synaptic (which is often used as a front-end for APT).
In 1996, the SUSE Linux distribution has YaST as frontend for its own application repository. Mandriva Linux has urpmi with GUI frontend called Rpmdrake. Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux has YUM in 2003 as a successor of YUP (developed at Duke University for Red Hat Linux).
In 1997, BeDepot a third-party application store and package manager (Software Valet) for BeOS was launched, which operated until 2001. It was eventually acquired by Be Inc. BeDepot allowed for both commercial and free applications as well as handling updates
In 2002, the commercial Linux distribution Linspire (then known as LindowsOS—which was founded by Michael Robertson, founder of MP3.com) introduced an application store known as Click'N'Run (CNR). For an annual subscription fee, users could perform one-click installation of free and paid applications through the CNR software. Doc Searls believed that the ease-of-use of CNR could help make desktop Linux a feasible reality.
The popular Linux distribution Ubuntu (also based on Debian) introduced its own graphical software manager known as the Ubuntu Software Center on version 9.10 as a replacement for Synaptic. On Ubuntu 10.10, released in October 2010, the Software Center expanded beyond only offering existing software from its repositories by adding the ability to purchase certain applications (which, at launch, was limited to Fluendo's licensed DVD codecs).
Apple and the App Store
In 2007, Apple Computer launched the iPhone, the company's first ever smartphone. When the device launched, the device did not provide any support for third-party software: Apple's CEO Steve Jobs believed that web applications served over the internet could provide adequate functionality required for most users. Soon after its release, however, developers had managed to "jailbreak" the iPhone and begin coding third-party apps for the device, distributed through package managers such as Installer.app (which itself was based on APT) and Cydia.
With the release of iPhone OS 2.0 in July 2008, Apple launched the App Store; officially introducing third-party application development and distribution to the platform. The service allows users to purchase and download new apps for their device through either the App Store on the device, or through the iTunes Store on the iTunes desktop software. Apple asserts a large number of restrictions on app developers: all apps are subject to a review by Apple staff when submitted and can be rejected if they do not pass Apple's technological and content guidelines. Additionally, Apple takes a 30% commission on revenues for paid apps sold through the store. Even after the launch of the official App Store, alternative app stores for jailbroken iOS devices, such as Cydia (which also introduced the ability to charge for apps), have remained active as an alternative platform to allow developers to distribute apps that have been rejected by Apple, or for those who do not wish to distribute through the App Store.
While Apple has been criticized by some for how it operates the App Store, it has been a major financial success for the company: reaching over 40 billion app downloads as of 2013[update], with a library of over 800,000 apps available. The popularity of Apple's App Store led to the introduction of equivalent marketplaces by competing mobile operating systems: the Android Market launched alongside the release of the first Android smartphone (the HTC Dream) in September 2008, and BlackBerry's App World launched in April 2009. In January 2011, Apple also launched the Mac App Store, a similar distribution platform for OS X software on Macintosh computers; while developers can still distribute applications for Macs via traditional methods, the Mac App Store features similar certification requirements to its iOS counterpart to ensure security and reliability.
"App Store" trademark
Due to its popularity, the term "app store" (first used by Apple's App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad lines) has frequently been used as a generic trademark to refer to other distribution platforms of a similar nature on both mobile devices and other platforms such as smart TVs. The model has done so well in and become so recognized by consumer markets that businesses have begun developing and deploying their own, branded app stores for their employees and customer populations. However, Apple has asserted trademark claims over the phrase, and filed a trademark registration for "App Store" in 2008. In 2011, Apple sued both Amazon.com (who runs the Amazon Appstore for its Android-based devices) and GetJar (who has offered its services since 2005) for trademark infringement and false advertising regarding the use of the term "app store" to refer to their services. Microsoft filed multiple objections against Apple's attempt to register the name as a trademark, considering it to already be a generic term.
In January 2013, Apple's claims were rejected by a US District judge, who argued that the company presented no evidence that Amazon had "[attempted] to mimic Apple’s site or advertising", or communicated that its service "possesses the characteristics and qualities that the public has come to expect from the Apple APP STORE and/or Apple products"
- Electronic commerce
- Digital distribution in video games
- List of mobile software distribution platforms
- Desktop software distribution platforms
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