Apple’s App Store generated a record $64 billion in revenue last year as coronavirus lockdowns saw sales shoot up more than 25 percent from 2019

  • Analysts estimate gross sales from the amount Apple paid to developers 
  • Paid apps earning rose 28 percent compared to a mere 3.1 percent in 2019
  • Google Play only grossed $38.6 billion, according to Sensor Tower
  • The App Store’s best year saw Apple battle Epic Games and other developers over fees and regulations 

Not everyone suffered during 2020: Apple grossed more than $64 billion through its App Store last year – an increase of more than 25 percent from 2019.

Those record earnings were likely fueled by the ongoing pandemic, as many turned to mobile games to alleviate boredom or anxiety or to stay connected.

Apple doesn’t disclose annual sales in the App Store, but analysts looked at the amount the company doled out to developers, and added back in the 30 percent fee it keeps for itself to come up with the $64 billion figure.    

The most popular paid downloads in the App Store last year included Facetune, TouchRetouch, Dark Sky Weather and Procreate Pocket.

Tencent’s Honor of Kings was the best-selling game, generating $2.5 billion.

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Not everyone suffered during 2020: Apple grossed more than $64 billion through its App Store last year - an increase of more than 25 percent from 2019

Not everyone suffered during 2020: Apple grossed more than $64 billion through its App Store last year – an increase of more than 25 percent from 2019

In 2019, Apple earned roughly $50 billion from its app-selling platform, according to CNBC, compared to $48.5 in 2018.

That’s a mere 3.1 percent growth rate, compared to the 28 percent spike between 2019 and 2020. 

Apple takes 30 percent of most sales through the store, though companies generating less than $1 million on the platform now only have to give up half that.

While the company doesn’t release exact sales figures from its App Store, CNBC was able to extrapolate from the amount Apple paid to developers, which is public.

Apple doesn’t disclose annual sales in the App Store, but analysts looked at the amount the company doled out to developers, and added back in the 30 percent fee it keeps for itself to come up with the $64 billion figure

Apple doesn’t disclose annual sales in the App Store, but analysts looked at the amount the company doled out to developers, and added back in the 30 percent fee it keeps for itself to come up with the $64 billion figure

Between January 2020 and January 2021, it reportedly doled out $45 billion to app developers. Assuming most had to cede 30 percent, that means a gross was around $64 billion.

WHAT WERE THE MOST DOWNLOADED PAID APPLE STORE APPS IN 2020? 

The Dark Sky app provides users with hour-by-hour temperature readings, visualizations of weather activity and smartphone alerts

The Dark Sky app provides users with hour-by-hour temperature readings, visualizations of weather activity and smartphone alerts

 1. Driving Theory Test 4 in 1 Kit 

2. Official DVSA Theory Test Kit 

3. Procreate Pocket 

4. The Wonder Weeks 

5. Forest – Stay focused 

 

 6. TouchRetouch 

7. Facetune 

8. CITB Op/Spec HS&E test 2019 

9. Dark Sky Weather 

10. AutoSleep Track Sleep on Watch  

 

CNBC admits its numbers could be low, however: Analytics firm Sensor Tower estimates the App Store did $72.3 billion last year, or early double the $38.6 billion grossed in Google Play.

The App Store’s most profitable year was also its most contentious, as Apple became embroiled in a series of disputes over fees and guideless for streaming games and in-app purchases.

Apple requires games to submit an individual review and use in-app purchase to unlock features.

Epic Games had encouraged iOS users to buy ‘V-Bucks’ for its popular game, Fortnite, from its own website.

And Apple had initially kept a number of gaming streaming services, such as Microsoft’s xCloud and Google Stadia, out of its store because it cannot monitor individual games.

Apple defended its standards by saying the driving principle of the app store is ‘ to provide a safe experience for users to get apps and a great opportunity for all developers to be successful.’

If the guidelines rankle developers, Apple said, ‘there is always the open Internet.’

It also warned it would reject apps for any content it felt was ‘over the line.’

‘What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, ‘I’ll know it when I see it’,’ the company said. ‘And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.

Apple can afford to play hardball with developers: In August, it became the first American company to be worth $2 trillion.

Overall, consumers spent roughly $111 billion on mobile apps, according to Sensor Tower, a 30 percent jump over 2019.  



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