Apple Hits 40 Billion App Milestone

Jan 07, 2013 (09:01 AM EST)

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 12 Best iPhone, iPad Apps Of 2012
12 Best iPhone, iPad Apps Of 2012
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Apple customers have downloaded more than 40 billion apps since July 2008, the company said on Monday, and that doesn't include re-downloads or updates. Almost 20 billion of those downloads occurred in 2012.

Apple also said that it has more than 500 million active App Store accounts, a figure that's particularly noteworthy when measured against the 188 million active Amazon customer accounts.

It's a declaration of success that the company's late co-founder Steve Jobs didn't initially anticipate. When Apple was preparing to launch the iPhone in 2007, Jobs resisted the idea of apps created outside of Apple because he believed third-party software would ruin the experience. As recounted by biographer Walter Isaacson, Apple board member Arthur Levinson and SVP of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller pressed Jobs repeatedly to allow third-party apps until he eventually relented.

Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet software and services at Apple, in a statement said, "Developers have made over seven billion dollars on the App Store, and we continue to invest in providing them with the best ecosystem so they can create the most innovative apps in the world."

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Some developers certainly have been paid well, though according to research firm Distmo, a small number of top developers are collecting an increasing share of App Store revenue. In November 2012, according to the company, seven applications were responsible for 10% of Apple App Store revenue. Back in January 2012, eleven applications accounted for 10% of the revenues.

As if to underscore the trend toward winner-take-all app sales noted by Distmo, Apple said that two leading App Store earners, game makers Backflip Studios and Supercell, received $100 million from Apple between them.

Most app developers don't do so well. A survey from 2011 that found 50% of iOS developers had made less than $3,000 in lifetime revenue on the App Store.

For Apple, however, the revenue is good. To pay out $7 billion, Apple will have taken in $10 billion in App Store sales, having kept 30% for itself.

Predictably, competitors are keen to open app stores of their own and Apple has moved to oppose them. Following its 2008 trademark filing to protect the term "app store," Apple sued Amazon in 2011 over Amazon's Appstore. Amazon recently won a dismissal of one claim in that case, that Amazon's use of the term qualified as false advertising. A trial is scheduled for August this year.

Other app stores, notably Google Play, have also been doing well. According to Distmo, Google Play revenue grew 43% from August through November 2012. Nonetheless, Apple continues to maintain a strong lead: Typical daily revenue for Apple's App Store in November 2012 was about $15 million. During the same month, Google Play collected about $3.5 million per day.