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The App Store logo is reflected in the Apple logo of an Apple notebook

Photo: Chris Delmas / AFP

With the App Store, Apple built a goldmine for itself 15 years ago – and so did app developers. According to a study by the Analysis Group published on Wednesday, app developers generated more than $2022.1 trillion in 1 from iOS apps downloaded from the App Store. The notorious commission payments of up to 30 percent, for which Apple is often criticized, have only become due on a comparatively small subset of these revenues.

Because – this is the trick with this study – the huge sum comes together because the economists of the Analysis Group have not only looked at app purchases, in-app purchases and subscriptions, but really all sales that were generated via apps. So if someone ordered a jar of peanut butter from the Amazon app, booked a plane trip through the Expedia app, or ordered a pizza through the app, they counted that too.

China shops via app

The result: of the 1.1 trillion dollars in total revenue, 104 billion dollars are accounted for by transactions for which Apple charges up to 30 percent commission: app purchases, in-app purchases and in-app subscriptions. Almost as much, 109 billion dollars, developers have earned through in-app advertising. However, the lion's share of the turnover reported by the study is attributable to the purchase of physical goods and services. In the study, travel bookings and driving services are counted as well as food and grocery orders.

During the corona crisis, according to the authors of the study, sales via iOS apps have increased. Between 2019 and 2022, annual growth was between 27 and 29 percent, which means that the overall market has more than doubled in the past four years.

Some regional differences are noteworthy. In China, for example, around $2022 billion was spent on buying goods and services via app in 523, more than the $519 billion generated by the entire app store ecosystem in 2019. China, so the quick conclusion, is an online shopping country. For Apple's balance sheet, however, it is only the third most important region with 21 billion dollars, according to the study. More commissionable revenues are generated in the U.S. and the "rest of the world," totaling $52 billion. Europe is at the bottom of the ranking with eleven billion dollars.

Put you in a good mood

There are probably several reasons why Apple is releasing the figures right now. One of them is the WWDC developer conference, where the company will unveil new software, new gadgets and, according to rumors, its fabled computer glasses next Monday. Record numbers from the App Store should put the participating developers in a good mood in advance. And make sure that the news is out in the world, but on Monday makes room for things that are more important to the company. The media attention is to be focused entirely on Monday's news.

On the other hand, Apple wants to emphasize the advantages of its App Store. The company is threatened with a regulation in the EU that would oblige it to enable its users to obtain apps from other sources. So far, Apple only allows app installations on iPhones and iPads from its App Store. The company argues that this is the only way it can check all software for possible errors or malware before releasing it and ensure that it adheres to its strict data protection requirements. An open app system would expose users to dangerous apps.

According to reports from last year, Apple is nevertheless preparing to allow a possibility of so-called "sideloading", i.e. the installation of apps from third-party sources. News like today's, which shows the success of the App Store, could encourage developers to stay in Apple's system with their apps even if they could theoretically break out of it.