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Apple's New Killer Apps

Monday, 11 Aug 2008 | 8:17 AM ET
iPhone
Apple
iPhone

When Apple was preparing to launch its "app store" for iPhone, the online software marketplace of free and for-sale third party developer applications, I suggested then that this was potentially the great hidden gem in the iPhone story.

That App Store might some day rival iTunes as a revenue stream.

Think about it: Apple could rely on thousands of independent developers to create new programs that could lure millions of potential iPhone customers.

Literally all things to all people simply by offering up some code and letting those developers do their thing. Letting the marketplace grow the marketplace.

Now we have word from on high, courtesy of Steve Jobs and his comments to the Wall Street Journal that Apple's App Store is a bona fide blockbuster. Consumers have bought or downloaded 60 million apps in the month the online doors have been open.

Jobs says Apple has been selling 1 million apps a day, and while it's not generating a huge amount of profit, it could become a billion-dollar retail operation in the future. A loss-leader, if you will, for iPhone. Jobs says he has never seen anything like this in his career for software.

Once again, Apple has seen the future, built a bridge to it, and is taking consumers along for the journey. It's extraordinary that the company has once again seized on another electronic ecosystem, in much the same way iTunes didn't so much as invent downloaded digital entertainment as it did re-invent it. And iPhone is the direct beneficiary of this ingenuity, proving once again that the device isn't merely a "smart phone," but Apple's next-generation "platform."

You just don't see this kind of grassroots market place support and development excitement around the sector's biggest players, like Nokia , Microsoft and Research in Motion . And I'm not saying Apple will eclipse them any time soon. But when and if that does happen, Apple's App Store is the kind of thing that can sure speed it up.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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