Apple’s iOS App Store sales stalled for 8 months. Revenue per download drops 30% in the last 4
Most of the numbers Apple provided during WWDC keynote yesterday, showed a tremendous growth along all the metrics for iOS.
But there was one number that was well below from what I expected. Payments to iOS developers and – as a proxy – App Store sales. They seem to have stopped growing at about $250 million a month level, for 8 months now.
Tracking the real iOS app sales is a pretty difficult and imprecise thing. But Apple occasionally reveals the total amount it has paid out to developers since the opening of the App Store, which gives us a glimpse into an iOS app economics. It did so on 5 occasions now:
The interesting payment periods in the table above are – Oct. 4th 2011 to Jan 31st 2012, and Jan. 31st to June 11th.
They are roughly the same in length – about 4 months. And the amount of payments to developers during these periods is also the same – $1 billion. Which is not a good thing, if you consider how much the iOS ecosystem grew in the meantime.
Apple shipped about 140 million new iOS devices from October till June, about 50% increase in installed base. The number of apps in App Store went from 500K to 650K. Average downloads during the same period – almost doubled.
Yes, there are a lot of caveats to the table above. The app sales obviously do not jump to the new average level and stay there during the new reported period. They do increase (or used to), every month and then get reported as a lump sum. And the payments to developers that Apple reports, are at least a month behind the actual sales. (In May, developer gets paid for what he earned in March). And yes, there probably are ups and downs from month to month. E.g. – based on the reported numbers, in January Apple most likely paid out about $300 million that developers earned in November.
But that does not change the fact, that Apple’s payments to developers have been stalled at the same average $250 million a month level, for 8 months now. Which – coupled with the app number growth in the Store – means less revenues per paid app for average developer. It also means less app downloads per every new iOS device.
And if you look at the average developer revenue per app download, the numbers start looking even worse. Developer revenue per download went down from about $0.20 in Oct.-Jan. to $0.14 in Feb-Jun. That’s 30% drop in just 4 months.
Is it a short blip, with seasonality in play, after humongous Christmas Season? Maybe.
But it can also be a start of the new trend with huge implications for the future of iOS app economy.