15 years ago, Apple launched the App Store. Last year, it brought in $1.1 trillion for developers

 

By Michael Grothaus

Back in 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone, there was no App Store to go along with it. Steve Jobs wanted developers to code third-party web apps instead. Yeah, even geniuses have bad ideas sometimes. A year later, Jobs relented and Apple launched the App Store.

To say the App Store has been a success for not just Apple but developers is an understatement—that is, at least if you go by an independent study from economists at the Analysis Group, which Apple is sharing today. The most striking number from the study is that in 2022, App Store developers generated $1.1 trillion in total billings and sales.

That enormous figure in just one year puts the App Store (which is just one small facet of Apple’s ecosystem) above nearly every other company on the planet, save for a few tech giants. The study also reveals some other interesting numbers about the App Store (and in a press release, Apple added a few of its own):

    More the 90% of the $1.1 trillion in billings and sales were accrued to developers—Apple didn’t take a commission.

    Breaking down the $1.1 trillion number further, $910 billion came from the sale of physical goods and services, such as T-shirts you buy through the Etsy app or a coffee table you buy through the Walmart app; $109 billion came from in-app advertising; and the final $104 billion came from digital goods and services.

    The $1.1 trillion figure for 2022 is a 29% year-over-year increase from 2021. Meanwhile, 2021 saw a 27% YOY increase from 2020. And 2020 saw a 27% YOY increase from 2019. In other words, the App Store keeps bringing in double-digit growth even 15 years after its launch.

    When just small developers are taken into account, their growth rate actually outpaces that of larger developers for the years 2020 to 2022. During that time their earnings grew 71%.

    While sales and billings grew more than 80% for all developers in the United States since 2019, developers in Europe did even better during the same period, which saw their sales and billings growing 116%.

    The easing of pandemic restrictions has seen the demand for apps in certain categories soar. Sales made in travel apps increased by 84% in 2022, while sales made in ride-hailing apps increased by 45% in the same year.

    Since the App Store launched in 2008, developers have now earned more than $320 billion, and users have downloaded 370 billion apps.

There’s no doubt that these latest App Store numbers are impressive and go to show just how valuable Apple’s ecosystem is, not just to the company but to both major and independent developers. However, there’s probably an additional reason Apple is sharing this study and these figures now, other than to brag. 

 

It is rumored that in iOS 17, which is expected to be previewed next week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the company will allow European users to side-load apps for the first time—that is, install apps without having to download them from Apple’s App Store.

It’s a move that the EU is enforcing Apple to comply with over competition fears and one that Apple probably hopes other governments don’t enforce as well. These numbers released today may be Apple’s way of highlighting the positive economic impact of its App Store and serve as a reminder to lawmakers just how beneficial the storefront is to small and large developers across the globe.

Fast Company

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