Dennis Crowley, co-founder of the groundbreaking location-based mobile startup, Foursquare, earlier this week recalled the urge to give his interest in location-based services another go after his startup Dodgeball was bought by Google in 2005. But he knew that developing a mobile app meant courting a lot of heartache: endless versions for numerous devices, fees to get certified by carriers and ultimately no sure way to distribute the apps.

It was worse than the Wild Wild West, he said in an interview with GigaOM this week, explaining his reluctance at the time. But then something changed: the iPhone.

The iPhone only offered web apps when it debuted in 2007. But the powerful hardware and unique user interface lit a fire of demand among developers for a software development kit. Apple (s aapl) obliged a year later and also introduced the App Store, kicking off the modern mobile app era. That…

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