With more than 1.5 billion applications have been downloaded in the first 12 months of operation, Apple's App store is shaping up to become one nasty thorn into the side of Microsoft.
Millions have now been introduced to a brand new way of downloading and installing applications, through their iPhones and their iPod Touch, that proved to be a real eye opener in terms of usability and user friendliness.
Running applications on mobile devices is not something new but Apple controls user experience like no other companies before and ironically makes it easier, safer and more reliable than anything before. The closest thing I've seen to that was Click and Run (CNR), which was launched back in 2002 by Linspire (ex-Lindows) and now part of Xandros.
The danger for Microsoft is that Apple could well extend App store (and by extension iTunes) to the desktop, beyond just movies and songs.
Currently, to install an application, users must first download a file, execute it, follow sometimes very cryptic instructions and maybe register it before being actually able to use it. In some cases, they have to buy a physical media (DVD or CDROM), wait for it to come, put it in an optical drive and load it.
App store eliminates all these steps and replaces it by simple, stress-free process, provided you have the necessary hard disk space and a reliable wireless connection.
Some applications, like operating systems or multi gigabyte application suites (Adobe Creative Suite for example), won't be at ease in an environment like an online application marketplace but for the overwhelming majority of applications, this should not be a problem at all.
How does that undermine Microsoft's hegemony? Well, Apple's mobile desktop paradigm strips away much of its complexity of the traditional operating system (AKA Windows), restricting it to a row of pretty icons.
Installing applications is one of the more daunting experiences for a novice computer user and Apple managed to make it looks so simple even a child can do it.
With the rise in stripped down computing exemplified by netbooks and web services like Google Docs, fat operating systems like Windows 7 or Linux distros are set to face their biggest challenge yet.
It is a sweet irony that just when Linux distros like Ubuntu (version 9.04 for example) or Windows 7 seem to have reached their summum, they might well lose their preponderance.