The holiday season capped off one of the biggest years ever for the App Store, Apple announced on Wednesday. The company raked in $1.1 billion from app sales and in-app purchases between December 20, 2015 and January 3, 2016. More than $144 million of that revenue came in on New Year’s Day, which Apple says was the biggest day of sales in App Store history.
Apple also added that developers have now collectively earned nearly $40 billion through the App Store since its introduction in 2008. More than one-third of that revenue, about $14 billion, came in during 2015 with total App Store revenues for the year topping $20 billion.
The story behind the story: Total revenue tallies are interesting enough. It would be really fascinating, however, to hear Apple comment on how App Store revenue is distributed across the development community. Apple has never confirmed one way or the other just how many apps earn the majority of those billions.
The guessing game
The Internet is awash in estimates that any riches created in the App Store are concentrated among a small cadre of top developers. With more than 1.5 million apps currently available for the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch, that’s unavoidable to a certain extent. But it would be interesting to see just how lopsided it really is. So far, we’ve only had educated guesses using reasonable but imperfect data such as those by developer Charles Perry of Metakite Software.
Perhaps to offset criticism about revenue distribution, Apple also included a short discussion on job creation alongside its App Store fanfare announcement. The company said the App Store is responsible for more than 1.4 million jobs in the U.S., and Apple has previously reported job creation numbers for China and Europe.
Those 1.4 million jobs aren’t all software development jobs, mind you. The number includes marketing, sales, and support staff involved in the so-called “app economy,” according to the Progressive Policy Institute study that Apple based its numbers on. The PPI study also counts “spillover” jobs such as local retail, restaurant, and construction jobs supported by app development companies. The PPI study was partly funded by Apple, according to The Wall Street Journal.
More to come
Even without a sense of revenue distribution, it’s always interesting to get at least a limited idea of the App Store’s impact. Android may have the larger user base, but developers have always maintained that the customer base willing to spend any real money lives in the iOS ecosystem.