What Apple’s 25 Billion App Downloads Mean

Apple’s announcement that 25 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store is clear testament to the success of iOS as a platform. While it’s still the most obvious target for mobile developers, some of the other numbers relating to app downloads also highlight the challenges which prospective app developers face.

The key figures which Apple announced:

  • More than 25 billion apps have been downloaded (both free and paid).
  • There are 550,000 apps on sale (of which 170,000 are iPad-native).
  • The total payout to developers so far from the App Store is $US4 billion.

It would be tempting to use those figures to conclude that the average pay-out per app is a rather measly 16 cents, but of course this would be entirely deceptive. Since Apple doesn’t distinguish the number of paid downloads from the number of free ones, we can’t use an average figure in any sensible way. The truly meaningful figure from an app business perspective would be the median amount paid out to app developers, but I don’t expect Apple will be disclosing that number.

Similarly, those numbers suggest an average download number per app of 45,454, but that figure will be hopelessly skewed by top-tier apps like Angry Birds and Facebook, both of which represent franchises where app downloads on iOS are just one part of a much bigger picture.

We already know that Android is overtaking iOS in the local market, but there’s still a massive audience for iOS apps, and a simpler development process since the hardware and platform are so tightly controlled by Apple. It’s a great platform and a good opportunity, but it’s not an easy path to riches.


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