In the summer of 2008, I got an unusual invitation: Steve Jobs, then Apple’s chief executive officer, wanted me, then a Wall Street Journal reporter, to come to Apple headquarters to hear how well a fledgling online service for the iPhone—the App Store—did in its first month in business. Even more unusual, he allowed me to record our meeting.
The recording of that interview, which The Information and Wall Street Journal are jointly publishing for the first time, is an opportunity to hear, in vivid form, how Mr. Jobs viewed the opportunity presented by mobile software years before its success became conventional wisdom. Apple celebrated the tenth anniversary of the App Store on July 10, noting that developers have earned more than $100 billion through the store over that decade—which surely qualifies it as one of the biggest channels for distributing software, if not the biggest, in history. The App Store went on to play a pivotal role in the success of the iPhone, which in turn transformed Apple into the most valuable company on the planet. A few companies that owe a lot of their success to mobile apps—Uber, Facebook, Spotify—have come along for the ride.