Steve Jobs On App Store, Confirms Remote Kill Switch

The Wall Street Journal got a chance to sit down with Steve Jobs at the Apple HQ in California recently, where they discussed the App Store’s success so far and it’s importance to the iPhone and iPod touch. They also touched on that kill switch found by Jonathan Zdziarski in the iPhone’s code.

Since it’s introduction, Jobs says users have downloaded more than 60 million apps from their App Store. While most of these were free, they’ve sold an average of 1 million a day in applications, totaling around $30 million in sales over the month. At that rate, they’re headed to rake in at least $360 million a year in revenue from the App Store alone.

Said Mr. Jobs “This thing’s going to crest a half a billion, soon,” he added. “Who knows, maybe it will be a $1 billion marketplace at some point in time.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software,” he added.

Mr. Jobs noted however that the App Store’s primary function is not to raise the company revenue — they keep only 30% of the proceeds to cover credit-card transactions and other costs like advertising — but to boost sales of the devices the apps run on, following the same tactic they used for the iTunes store for the iPod.

“Phone differentiation used to be about radios and antennas and things like that,” Mr. Jobs said. “We think, going forward, the phone of the future will be differentiated by software.”

Their competitors, notably Microsoft and Google, share this view, but according to Richard Doherty, analyst with Envisioneering Group, Apple has beat their competitors to the chase. “They’ve lost developers to Apple,” he says.

Still, not everything is all well and good with the App Store. As we know, not all developers have been keeping within their boundaries, such as the functionless I Am Rich app that cost $1000. Nobody was very surprised to see that Apple did remove it, despite the developer’s claim that they believed they were within the SDK’s limitations.

They also discussed the supposed kill switch in the iPhone 2.0 software that causes the iPhone to phone home and check apps that have been blacklisted by Apple, and subsequently remove those that have from the device. Steve Jobs confirmed that the kill switch is in fact very much real, but that (as I suggested), it is intended as a security feature, giving them the ability to remotely remove any apps they accidentally approve that turn out to be malicious or a security threat.

[via WSJ]

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