Question

Did you ever make mobile apps before the iPhone and App Store? What was the distribution experience like?

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forouzani's avatar
a year ago

I remember building apps as Java Applets and distributing it as a Jar file.

The memory gives me shivers. Debugging across devices was very painful.

Distribution is a strong word, but it was done by sending links to download the Jar file. Similar to how you would install an APK file on an Android device today.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @forouzani )
a year ago

Fascinating. Oh man, how many devices were your apps trying to target? And what was the payments system to sell the apps?

1 point
forouzani's avatar
@forouzani (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

I only targeted a few devices, mostly Nokia devices.

Independent apps weren't much of a thing back then. In those days, mobile apps were used more as a bonus to some other subscription service you were using.
Most of the apps I worked on were games / calendars / ringtones etc.

You would pay for it on the website and get an SMS with a link to download the Jar file.

Upgrading involved uninstalling the old version, then installing a new version; and had a 50% probability of failure 😂

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @forouzani )
a year ago

I remember being able to buy some basic Nokia games from my carrier way back when, where you’d dial some system number like *1234# and it’d download the game and charge your phone bill.

Getting an SMS with a download link sounds advanced in comparison. And that upgrade process sounds more fraught than upgrading Windows back in the day!

1 point
forouzani's avatar
@forouzani (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Oh yeah, I think the most popular payment method was phone bill based. That required partnering with various carriers or other companies, which was harder for smaller startups.

2 points
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