Apple says the App Store ecosystem supported US$519 billion in billings and sales globally in 2019 alone.
The new study, conducted by independent economists at Analysis Group, found that the highest value categories were mobile commerce (m-commerce) apps, digital goods and services apps, and in-app advertising. Apple CEO says the results encapsulate the full sweep of the dynamic, competitive, and flourishing app economy, which has unleashed a torrent of innovation across 175 countries and revolutionized the way the world learns, works, and connects.
The study reveals that the direct payments made to developers from Apple are only a fraction of the vast total when sales from other sources, such as physical goods and services, are calculated. Because Apple only receives a commission from the billings associated with digital goods and services, more than 85% of the $519 billion total accrues solely to third-party developers and businesses of all sizes, Cook adds.
Of the $519 billion the App Store ecosystem supported in 2019, the study found that sales from physical goods and services accounted for the largest share, at $413 billion. Within that category, m-commerce apps generated the vast majority of sales, and of those, retail was the largest, at $268 billion.
Retail apps include those that digitally represent brick-and-mortar stores such as Target and Best Buy, as well as virtual marketplaces that sell physical goods, such as Etsy, but don’t include grocery delivery, which is its own category. Other types of m-commerce apps were among the largest sources of sales from physical goods and services.
Travel apps, including Expedia and United, accounted for $57 billion. Ride-hailing apps, including Uber and Lyft, comprised $40 billion in sales, and food delivery apps, including DoorDash and Grubhub, made up $31 billion.
Billings and sales from digital goods and services comprised $61 billion, and this category included apps for music and video streaming, fitness, education, ebooks and audiobooks, news and magazines, and dating services, among others. Games, the type of app most downloaded in 2019, was the largest generator of billings and sales within this category. Notable games of 2019 included “Mario Kart Tour,” which was the most downloaded game of 2019, and “Sky: Children of the Light” from indie developer thatgamecompany, which won Apple’s 2019 iPhone Game of the Year.
In-app advertising sales accounted for $45 billion, and of that, 44% was derived from games. Non-gaming apps that generate substantial in-app advertising sales are often free to download and use, such as Twitter and Pinterest, though others also offer in-app purchases to access content, such as The New York Times and MLB.com.