Apple's App Store had gross sales around $50 billion last year, but growth is slowing

Key Points
  • Apple's App Store platform grossed around $50 billion in 2019, according to analysis by CNBC.
  • At $50 billion in sales per year, the App Store alone would be no. 64 on the Fortune 500, ahead of Cisco and behind Morgan Stanley. 
  • But the annual disclosure also suggests that growth for the App Store is slowing.
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S., on Monday, June 4, 2018. 
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple announced Wednesday that it has paid $155 billion to developers since 2008, up from $120 billion disclosed in January 2019. That means the company's App Store had total sales maxing out at $50 billion in 2019, assuming developers take 70% of app sales, and generated about $15 billion in revenue for Apple, according to analysis by CNBC.

The statistic came as part of a broader announcement from Apple meant to show momentum for its so-called services business, which is increasingly seen by investors and analysts as a key segment for the iPhone maker. That business also includes subscription content services such as Apple Music and Apple TV+, iPhone warranties, and licensing revenue, such as the fee that Google pays Apple to make its search engine the default on the iPhone. Overall, the business generated revenue of $46.2 billion in the company's last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 28, 2019.

Apple doesn't disclose the total amount of revenue its App Store makes per year. But it has published stats about its App Store every January since 2013, including the total amount of money it pays to developers. Developers get 70% of the purchase price of an app on the App Store, rising to 85% in the second year of a subscription, which affects a relatively smaller proportion of apps. With that information, it's possible to estimate total maximum App Store sales from the amount paid to developers.

Based on the stats Apple disclosed, it paid out $35 billion to developers in 2019, suggesting total sales of $50 billion.

At $50 billion in total sales per year, the App Store alone would be No. 64 on the Fortune 500, ahead of Cisco and behind Morgan Stanley.

But the annual disclosure also suggests that growth for the App Store is slowing. The $35 billion Apple paid to developers in 2019 was only 2.9% higher than the 2018 figure of $34 billion, and a significant slowdown from the payout's 30% growth rate in 2017.

Apple disclosed several factoids related to subscriptions it launched in 2019, but it did not include any viewership statistics for Apple TV+, the streaming service launched earlier this fall, nor any subscriber statistics for Apple Arcade, its game subscription.

Other stats disclosed on Wednesday include:

  • App Store collected $1.42 billion in sales between Dec. 24 and 31
  • The record for most revenue from one day on the App Store is $386 million, set Jan. 1, 2020
  • 50% of Apple Music users have used a new lyric syncing feature
  • Apple News has over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada
  • Apple Podcasts has over 800,000 shows
  • 75% of iCloud users use two-factor authentication, a login method that makes it harder for attackers to control your account

Correction: Apple's last fiscal year ended Sept. 28, 2019. An earlier version misstated the date.

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