I like to see my favorite news source agree with me. This time, it is Wired.com, who published a Top-10 list of 2008 technology breakthroughs, topped by … the iTunes Application Store. Of course, one of the reasons why I like this choice is that I own a compatible device, but it is not the most important one. More importantly, the Application Store is the first really successful application store, which (1) proposes a model that is interesting for developers, (2) proposes cheap (and even free) applications for end-users, and (3) proposes a lifecycle for applications, including the possibility of updates, and most likely, of disabling applications.
The funny thing is that this product is really, really far from perfect. First, it is not transparent: the rules for accepting and refusing applications are unclear, leading to many controversies, and the tools used in the application review process, if any, are not available to developers who prepare their applications. Then, it is a closed product for a closed range of devices, for a closed community of developers using a specific closed type of machines; in brief, it is not very open.
But in the end, the Application Store is wildly successful. And in the end, this is what really counts, especially in a market where all previous attempts have more or less miserably failed.