Apple's App Store downloads top $10bn: Battle for developers' hearts and minds heats up

Apple's App Store downloads top $10bn: Battle for developers' hearts and minds heats up

Summary: iOS device owners downloaded nearly three billion apps in December, while developers earned $8bn across the year. But the competition is closing in, fast.

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Apple customers spent over $10bn in its App Store in 2013 — including over $1bn in December, the company has revealed.

The company said App Store users downloaded almost three billion apps in December making it the most successful month for the app repository. As a result, it said, Apple developers have now earned $15bn from apps in the Apple App Store; this time last year that figure stood at somewhere around $7bn.

How tech's giants lost the tablet and smartphone war, even if they don't know it yet

How tech's giants lost the tablet and smartphone war, even if they don't know it yet

How tech's giants lost the tablet and smartphone war, even if they don't know it yet

The app store continues to be a central element in the success of the Apple tablet and smartphone ecosystem. The number of apps available for iOS devices continues to grow: Apple said its app store — available in 155 countries — now includes more than one million apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod and, and 500,000 native iPad apps.

Back in January last year Apple said it had more than 775,000 apps in the App Store with 300,000 native iPad apps available, and that developers had made "over $7bn on the App Store". In March 2012 the app store contained 550,000 apps, including 170,000 native iPad apps.

But while these numbers look impressive, Apple is facing increasing competition in the app store space as Google's Android and Amazon's own version of Android generate increasing levels of app store revenue.

During 2013, the revenue from Google's Play app store grew at Apple's expense, according to research by apps analytics company Distimo. However, in November last year, the Apple App Store was still leading its rival with 63 percent of app revenue compared to 37 percent for Google Play.

"For some apps, the download volumes from the Amazon Appstore started to compete with download volumes in established app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play," the company said.

It calculated that on a typical day in November last year, the global revenues for the top 200 grossing apps in the Apple App Store stood at over $18m. For Google Play, its estimate was about $12m. But Android apps revenues are catching up — in November 2012, these estimates were at $15m for the Apple App Store and only at $3.5m for Google Play.

Free apps with additional options for in-app purchases are by far the most common types of apps.

Promoting the scale and lucrative nature of its app store is vital to the success of the broader Apple ecosystem. As analyst Benedict Evans pointed out on his site last year: "A key selling point for the iPhone (though not the only one) is that the best apps are on iPhone and are on iPhone first. If that does change then the virtuous circle of 'best apps therefore best users therefore best apps' will start to unwind and the wide array of Android devices at every price point will be much more likely to erode the iPhone base."

If Google's Play revenues continue to rise then developers might be tempted to defect to Android – especially as the installed base of Android continues to grow at a rapid pace. That's part of the reason why Apple is so keen to trumpet the success of its app store as much as possible.

Further reading

Topics: iPhone, Apple, iPad, Mobility, Smartphones

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12 comments
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  • Not correct: "revenue from Google's Play app store grew at Apple's expense"

    The revenue could not possibly grow at Apple's expense since Apple's own revenue also grew rapidly. In absolute numbers, bigger than Android (though in relative figures, Android's revenue grown faster).

    Also, size Android's installed base does not play much of role because most of users do not care for smartphone functionality of their devices. $$50-150 Android devices are mostly not used to anything more than calls and photos.

    What we should look at is size of premium/top Android smartphones market. This will affect software marketshare, not overall "smarphone" base. In this regard, there was little advancement for Android in 2013.
    DDERSSS
    • Yeah, I caught that, too.

      Of course, the motivation is a desperate grasping at ANYTHING to knock Apple down a notch.
      baggins_z
      • You realize, of course

        Mr. Baggins -- Hobbits would never go with Apple products. 1. They are too expensive, and Hobbits are more into enjoying life than doing the "American" lifestyle and ending up with no free time and extra money. 2. They would hate such a locked-down platform. They'd certainly want things free and open-source. They'd all have Linux PCs and Android phones/tablets.
        I just wanted to tell you you're a bit of a walking contradiction, liking Hobbits and also Apple products.
        matthewlinux
        • Dude

          it's just a username. A hint - he isn't really an actual hobbit.
          Mac_PC_FenceSitter
          • What?

            You mean he's just a midget in disguise?
            slickjim
        • yeah right

          I'm sure hobbits would go for the convenience of iOS/OS X platforms where everything is easy to use and setup and ready to go instead of sweating day and night over rooting, driver updates and recompiling on Android/Linux. You sir, is the walking contradiction.
          looop
          • iPhone vs Android phones? No contest.

            I am glad you have informed me that my $150 Android phone is crap, difficult to setup etc. because if you hadn't told me, I would never have known. Most Apple users are not particularly tech savy or they are technophobic probably why they would not go for Android.and rather go for the cozy more restricted Apple. IPhone. Iphone users are consumers that love the idea that it is more expensive and the fact you have to pay through the nose for the apps. My friend recently compared his iPhone 4s to my $150 Android. My phone was light years ahead. That was supposed to be the best iPhone made! He was so disappointed, he went out and bought a gold iPhone 5s. Wonder what, he will do when I get my octocore, 2GB of RAM full HD, 32GB ROM, 64 GB SD supported, OTG $275 Android?
            rdbilly
    • wait what?

      "Also, size Android's installed base does not play much of role because most of users do not care for smartphone functionality of their devices. $$50-150 Android devices are mostly not used to anything more than calls and photos."

      Do you realise the reason for all this appstore/playstore revenue is stupid free games like candy crush which makes ALL its money with in-app purchasing.
      Over 70% of store revenue is in-app purchases.
      The number of androids is eating into Apple store revenue. Why get a $600 iphone to play candy crush when a $150 android will do it?
      The rapid growth in google play revenue proves this.
      As for the notion that cheap androids are not used as smartphones is just elitist high horsesh17.
      warboat
  • "...more than 775,000 apps in the App Store..."

    And about a dozen worth anything.
    IT_Fella
    • Apple app store

      Actually has about 500,000 apps.
      The devs recompiles most of them for ipads and 64bits and the same apps is now counted 2 to 4 times to get the 1m apps count.
      Duplicates and triplicates, fragmentation city.
      warboat
    • Care to name that 12

      and give us all a laugh?
      1,2,3
  • It's a Gold Mine.

    You know, grams per ton.
    trm1945