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How apps took over Silicon Val...


How apps took over Silicon Valley

How apps took over Silicon Valley
The Silicon Review
17 May, 2024

If you want to do something on your smartphone today, there’s a 99% chance that there is an accompanying app. There’s literally an app for everything today – from train timetables and fashion to streaming and social media. But where did the premise for apps come from and why have they grown so much in popularity?

As with many new tech ventures, we can turn to Silicon Valley for answers. Most of the huge tech companies nestled in this region of Northern California were the forerunners when it came to app development, and indeed, many of the high technology businesses that still thrive here have developed a range of smartphone apps.

Below, I take a look at apps in Silicon Valley, how they started and how they have progressed into something completely different today.

Silicon Valley is a technology birthplace

Let’s start with a simple definition of an app. An app or application is essentially a piece of software packaged into a nice usable program that you can open and use independently on your smartphone. Apps are essentially the same as programs on desktop computers.

IBM created the first app but then Steve Jobs and Apple quickly gave life to the concept with the release of the App Store, and this resulted in the app craze. Apple is, of course, based in Silicon Valley, as are a range of other important tech companies that were early adopters of apps, including:

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • eBay
  • Adobe
  • Netflix
  • PayPal

Apple has its App Store and thousands of apps for its iPhones. Google has its suite of apps, including Maps, Docs and Sheets (and Google Pay up until June of this year). Facebook is possibly the best-recognized app in the world, while eBay, Adobe, Netflix and PayPal all have app versions of their products too.

It all started in Silicon Valley and the high-tech companies here set the precedent and showed the wider world the power of the smartphone app.

From there, its influence spread outwards and apps took over

The App Store was the major catalyst for the app explosion and we now have a scenario where every major company has either developed an app or is attempting to incorporate one into their offering (often whether it’s needed or not!). Below, I’ve outlined some of the different industries where apps are now commonplace, so you can see how things have evolved.

Grocery apps

Forget about doing your shopping in-store or wondering what’s available at Walmart! Most larger grocery superstores now have mobile apps. These are primarily useful for looking at available products and compiling your shopping list. However, many also offer services like home delivery ordering or click and collect. Simply log on to your app, select a delivery or collection slot, pick your items and pay – job done!

Fashion apps

Big fashion brands such as GAP, A&F and Tommy all provide a fantastic mobile shopping experience with dedicated mobile apps. You can create an account, browse their entire online catalog and add items to your basket, either for store collection or home delivery.

Online casino apps

You will now find that a casino will have optimized apps for popular smartphone operating systems. Some still use mobile-responsive browser versions, but most have apps. These give full functionality and allow you to play all the games, make deposits and benefit from promos. The games usually work fine within the app, and when playing slots and table games, the performance is great too, due to the power of modern smartphones.

Mobile gaming

I could spend an entire article on mobile gaming apps alone, as these have taken on a whole new life of their own. The App Store and Google Play Store are packed full with games spanning all genres. You only have to look at some of the most popular mobile app games like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans to see how popular they are.

Streaming content apps

Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, YouTube, Twitch – the list goes on. It’s incredibly easy to stream online content from your smartphone using one of the many mobile apps available.

Social media apps

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – these were some of the first mobile apps to be developed and we now have plenty of other social media apps, such as TikTok, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Billions of people use these worldwide daily for entertainment, news and more.

Silicon Valley remains at the heart of the app revolution

Although tech havens are sprouting up around the world, Silicon Valley remains one of the key players and this is demonstrated via the impact the companies have had with inventions like smartphones and apps. Apple and the social media giants here led the way in developing the app store and social media apps like Facebook – and now we live in a world where there is an app for everything!