Who invented the First Mobile App? (Invention Timeline Explained)

It’s hard to imagine using any smartphone without your favorite apps. The importance of mobile apps can’t be understated, as so many people use smartphones these days. In fact, the smartphone is one modern amenity that a surprising number of people can’t get through their day without. It helps our phones be the best it can possibly be, and offers seemingly limitless possibilities.

That said, who invented the first mobile app? How did it evolve over time? We’ll answer these questions and more below!

Who invented the first mobile app?

That distinction goes to Taneli Armanto, who programmed the mobile app Snake on the Nokia 6110. It wasn’t something you had to download, as it was built-in alongside the phone, meaning you got the addictive little app the moment you got your phone!

The mobile app’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Steve Jobs
    The pioneer of the mobile app’s potential

    While Steve Jobs didn’t exactly program mobile apps, he at least envisioned software applications you could download through phone lines. He would eventually make good on his goals with the App Store.

  • Taneli Armanto
    Programmer of the first true mobile app

    It’s amazing to think that everything began with Snake, an addictive game for the Nokia 6110. Everything else snowballed from there!

  • Apple
    Developer of the iPod — as well as every other Apple product to release with mobile apps

    The iPod was released in 2001, and came with two mobile apps, Solitaire and Brick.

  • The App Store
    The app store’s release alongside the iPhone

    Steve Jobs went on to release the iPhone through his company, apple. The App Store came with 500 mobile apps right off the gate, marking the beginning of the modern mobile app era.

When was the first mobile app invented?

The first mobile app was invented in 1997 for the Nokia 6110. It was the classic game Snake, and it changed the way people thought about mobile phones. Instead of seeing them as only a means of calling and texting, Snake showed that you could have fun with your phone as well.

A brief history of mobile apps

One of the fascinating things about mobile apps is that despite its many contributions to society as a whole, it’s a relatively recent invention. It’s the kind of innovation that quickly snowballed in popularity, using the work of pioneers and trailblazers to make its mark on history.

The very beginning of mobile apps makes its start as a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. He envisioned mobile apps as software that could be downloaded through phone lines. Way back when it seemed impossible, but it wasn’t long until the first example of mobile phone apps popped up — specifically, Snake. Developed by Taneli Armanto for the Nokia 6110, there’s no denying the effect the simple yet addictive game has had on society as a whole.

It showed people that phones weren’t just for its original function of calling and texting. It showed the applications and software in the phone had a lot more potential than most people gave it credit for. As far as the modern mobile app goes, we only need to look into the growth and release of one device — the Apple iPhone.

With the release of the iPhone came the App Store, which many people will likely peg as the first modern mobile app platform. That said, it released with 500 mobile apps — for the so-called first release of the modern mobile app, that’s quite a lot! Needless to say, it ushered in the era of modern mobile apps.

The mobile app timeline

  1. 1983
    A vision of the App Store

    As early as 1983, Steve Jobs already had ambitions of a platform where people could download software for their phones.

  2. 1997
    Release of the Nokia 6110, and Snake

    Thanks to the programming prowess of Taneli Armanto, Snake was released to the public alongside the Nokia 6110.

  3. 2001
    Release of the iPod

    With the release of the iPod came two more apps to herald the rise of modern mobile app — Solitaire and Brick

  4. 2007
    The App Store explosion

    With the release of the App Store, consumers got to enjoy 500 mobile apps right away. Steve Jobs’ dream comes to fruition!

Where was the first mobile app invented?

Considering Snake was developed for the Nokia 6110, it’s safe to assume that the first mobile app was invented in Finland.

The importance of the mobile app

  • A monumental rise

    Getting its start in Steve Jobs’ drawing board, there’s no arguing the fact that mobile apps were always set for success. All it had to do was release and it would boom in popularity. Snake and the App Store are testaments to that fact.

  • The center of innovation

    There’s no denying that smartphones are platforms for innovation and creativity. The reason for that is the sheer variety and potential mobile apps offer.

  • Mobile apps usher in progress

    When it comes to the rise of accessibility and convenience in today’s modern society, the primary instigators are mobile apps. From the digital healthcare revolution to the rise of fitness apps, mobile apps continue to usher in progress.

  • Limitless potential

    When you think of the future of mobile apps, it’s genuinely challenging to figure out when it will reach its peak. In fact, it’s easier to argue that mobile apps have no limit as far as potential goes.

Mobile apps by the numbers

  • 110It takes 110 lines of code through JavaScript to rebuild the first mobile app, Snake.
  • 500The number of apps that came with the App Store in 1997. Considering it was the first time many people had experienced mobile phone apps, it was a staggering number!
  • 8.93When you think about the App Store releasing with 500 apps, it’s an impressive feat for 1997. Want to know how many apps there are these days? About 8.93 million and counting.
  • 4.5If you thought the previous number was mind-boggling, want to know how many times Angry Birds have been downloaded? 4.5 billion times. That kind of number would have made even Steve Jobs recoil in shock.

Five facts about mobile apps

  • The popularity of social apps

    There’s an ongoing study regarding how much time people spend on specific apps. Compared to just about every other app out there, social apps (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) take up more than 70% of people’s time when they use their phones.

  • The importance of convenience

    The primary contributing factor to the popularity of any app is convenience. It’s the reason why some companies experience so much success when they release a convenient companion app that makes it easy to purchase their products and services.

  • The average time spent on mobile apps

    The amount of time the average American spends on mobile apps is about 4 hours and 39 minutes. It’s a staggering number when you consider that 4 hours and 39 minutes is about 1/5th of the day!

  • The number of swipes in a day

    Typically, a smartphone user will swipe their phone to unlock it to use mobile apps. In a recent study, it shows that we swipe our phones an average of 80 times a day. The number’s only increased with the increase of smart devices.

  • The power of free apps

    No matter how much time has passed, free apps continue to be the most popular, even if the quality isn’t the same. This has led to the rise of free games with microtransactions on the App Store.

FAQ about mobile apps

  • Which mobile app is the most popular?

    Considering the overall popularity of mobile apps in general, it’s understandable to wonder which app rules them all, so to speak. So far Facebook continues to be the most popular app in terms of yearly global downloads.

  • What contributes to the popularity of an app?

    Without a doubt, overall usefulness and convenience are the things that contribute to the popularity of an app. For example, a company might use companion apps with their services — that’s how companies such as Amazon grew their popularity. For games, the right combination of addictive, fun, and accessible is what contributes to popularity.

  • How long have premium apps existed?

    Premium apps have existed for as long as the App Store. Paid apps have always been a part of the story when it comes to the rise of mobile apps, though games such as Snake were free with every Nokia 6110. The modern app 

  • Will the mobile apps craze eventually die out?

    – The fascinating thing about mobile apps is that its innovation and progress usually marks milestones with efficiency and convenience. So long as smartphones — or any other smart device exists, mobile apps will always be a part of the picture. There’s little to no chance the mobile apps craze will die out due to how much it has contributed to society as a whole. There’s no need to worry!

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