App StoreSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple has today announced the findings of a new study into its App Store ecosystem.
  • Research from Analysis Group commissioned by Apple reveals the App Store facilitated $643 billion in billings and sales in 2020, up 24% from the year before.

Apple has today announced the findings of a new study carried out by Analysis Group which shows the App Store helped facilitate $643 billion in billings and sales in 2020, up 24% from 2019.

The study, titled 'A Global Perspective on the Apple App Store Ecosystem' and supported by Apple, is a deep dive into the App Store and how it supports small businesses, which it describes as a "thriving and inclusive engine of opportunity for economies around the world."

Apple says the number of small developers (those with less than 1 million downloads and $1 million in revenue in a given year) has increased by 40 percent since 2015, and now represents 90% of App Store developers. The study also reveals how small ideas can become big ideas, showing that of 2020's large developers (those earning more than $1 million each year), 35% were not even on the App Store in 2015, and 42% earned less than $1 million.

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More than one in four small developers selling digital goods and services have reportedly increased their earnings by 25 each year for the past five years. Digging deeper into the study, results show that of the estimated $643 billion in billings and sales, around $86 billion came from digital goods and services, whilst an astonishing $511 billion came from physical goods and services, a further $46 billion came from in-app advertising, 7% of the total. The digital goods figure increased by 40% on the previous year, showing the massive impact the pandemic had on App Store and e-commerce use.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said "Developers on the App Store prove every day that there is no more innovative, resilient or dynamic marketplace on earth than the app economy... The apps we've relied on through the pandemic have been life-changing in so many ways — from groceries delivered to our homes, to teaching tools for parents and educators, to an imaginative and ever-expanding universe of games and entertainment. The result isn't just incredible apps for users: it's jobs, it's opportunity, and it's untold innovation that will power global economies for many years to come."

The study also found that developers are able to reach numerous countries through its App Store, and Apple highlights the success of video and photo editing app Makaron which has been downloaded in 173 countries and regions and was valued at $150 million.

Apple also hailed how secure payments have helped to spur international growth, developers and childhood friends Pedro Wunderlich and Andres Canella from Guatemala commented that Apple's payment system was "essential" to them as a small business in calculating local taxes and currency conversion, describing its benefits as "priceless." The study reveals that 40% of all downloads for small developers came from outside their home countries, with storefronts offering support for numerous languages, 200 local payment methods, and 45 local currencies.

Apple also touted its 250,000 APIs and SDKs, as well as the work of Apple's Developer Academies and their 10,000 graduates who between them have launched more than 1,500 apps.