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It's been a year since Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) launched its revolutionary App Store for iPhone and iPod touch owners. Some of the milestones announced by the high-tech sultan of style are very impressive.
There have been 1.5 billion App Store downloads, for example, and some 65,000 applications are now available. And with 100,000 programmers in the iPhone Developer Program, the party's just getting started.
This doesn't mean Apple is rolling in the dough from its creations, though: Visitors still gravitate toward the free apps, and Apple has plenty of them. And as of last night, the five top paid applications are all charging just $0.99 a download, with most of that amount going to the developers.
Then again, just as Apple's iPod gravy rests in the original sale of the device -- and not the subsequent iTunes downloads, where the proceeds go mostly to the record labels -- the App Store's success is a great way to move more iPhones.
The App Store also offers a sweet way to keep its fan base loyal. Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) , and Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) have some sleek smartphones on the market, but once someone begins downloading apps -- and even paying for a few -- they're caught in Apple's sticky web.
We'll find out soon enough whether that last point holds up. The first wave of iPhone buyers are now finishing their two-year contract commitments with AT&T (NYSE: T ) . However, now that new iPhones will set them back a fraction of the original and their devices are brimming with pages of app downloads, why stray?
So congratulations, Apple, though not necessarily on the milestones. They're nice and round, but they're not needle movers. The real victory here is Apple's grasp on its growing army of iPhone owners.