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iTunes iPhone and iPad Application Economics

At Appcelerator, we recently received permission from Apple to gain access to their full iTunes catalog which we receive through nightly updates.

I’ve been playing around with the data to see what kind of useful information I can gather to better understand the applications within the store; both today and over time as it matures.

Here’s some initial information about the iTunes marketplace as it relates to iPhone and iPad applications.  This data is from September 15th, 2010 for the US iTunes store.

What’s the average price per category?

iTunes average price per category in US store

The top 5 categories by average price are:

Medical – $7.65

Navigation – $5.08

Book – $5.07

Reference – $3.51

Education – $3.27

What’s the most expensive apps per category?

US App Store Pricing (By Most Expensive)

The top 5 categories by maximum price are:

Business – $999.99

Education – $999.99

Utilities – $999.99

Lifestyle – $999.99

Medical – $499.99

The bottom 5 categories are also interesting:

Weather – $9.99

News – $34.99

Social Networking – $99.99

Healthcare – $99.99

Travel – $109.99

How many apps are in each category? (i.e. how many apps am I competing against)

What’s interesting in the latest statistics is that Books have pulled way forward beyond Games recently.  There are now 45,542 books in the iTunes application marketplace vs. 38,033 Games.  Books represent 17.5% of all applications in the store and Games represent 14.6%.

US App Store Categories

The top 5 App categories:

Book – 45,542

Games – 38,033

Entertainment – 29,285

Education – 20,228

Lifestyle  - 16,592

The bottom 5 App categories:

Weather – 1,030

Medical – 3,941

Finance – 4,023

Social Networking – 4,138

Photography – 4,695

What are the average size (in MB) of each app by category?

The size of the application (in megabytes) has an interesting perspective since the size determines how much bandwidth is used to download an application (assuming over-the-air, which I believe most people use).  It also determines if you must download from the web and synchronize (apps over 20 MB).

US App Store Sizes

The top 5 categories by size are:

Navigation – 50MB

Education – 26.8MB

Travel – 26.0MB

Healthcare – 24.5MB

Reference – 17.3MB

Wow, what’s interesting about this statistic is that 4 out of 5 of the applications in these categories cannot be downloaded over-the-air from your phone – they must be downloaded from within iTunes and synchronized to install them.

The smallest applications on average by category?

Utilities – 2.3MB

Weather – 2.9MB

Productivity – 3.2MB

Social Networking – 3.5MB

Finance – 4.5MB

The average application on the iTunes store is 14.85 MB.  This means that the average application in the iTunes marketplace is storing a lot of content inside the application and taking advantage of the fact that these applications are resident on the device and don’t necessarily need to connect to the Internet to retrieve content.

What’s the largest application in the store?

The winner up is G-Map U.S. & Canada by XRoad Co., Ltd. at 2.12GB.  Yes, that’s right, Gigabytes.

This looks like an awesome application.  It costs $49.99 and has live traffic and text-to-speech.

What’s the smallest application in the iTunes store?

iJustLight comes in at the featherweight size of 14K.   It costs $0.99 and appears to — well — present a light to help you see.  I love their screenshot – it’s simply a white image (I can’t even insert it here, you can’t see anything).

Which developers has the most applications in the store?

We all know it’s not about quantity, but quality.  But which publishers creates the most applications in the store (based on total number of apps)?  Here’s the top 5:

Iceberg Reader – 7,708

Brighthouse Labs – 4,407

Andrews UK Limited – 2,604

PraiseMorgan – 1,720

Your Mobile Apps Inc. – 1,703

Who are the top game publishers by the most applications in the store?

Alain Fernandes – 333

Brighthouse Labs – 251

Quizicals – 207

M5 Systems LLC – 165

Gameloft - 161

Who are the top eBook publishers by the most applications in the store?

Iceberg Reader – 7,701

Andrews UK Limited – 1,723

Libriance Inc – 1,646

Your Mobile Apps, Inc. – 1,613

For-side.com – 1,550

How many unique application publishers are in the iTunes marketplace?

There are 52,354 publishers and 260,119 applications in the iTunes marketplace (US).

The top 50 publishers on average have produced 49,335 apps and an average of 986 apps per publisher.

The top 50 publishers produce 19% of all applications in the store.

The top 100 publishers product 24% of all application in the store.

This is a typical long-tail distribution of application publishers to applications.

What’s the breakdown of applications by content rating?

Publishers must rate each application according to a content rating. What’s the breakdown of applications by content rating?

US App Store Content Ratings

What’s interesting is that 2,603 applications have no content rating – probably when Apple didn’t require it.

Here’s the breakdown:

4+ – 203,886 (78.38%)

9+ – 16,280 (6.26%)

12+ – 21,649 (8.32%)

17+ – 15,701 (6.04%)

None – 2,603 (1.00%)

This means that almost all publishers are trying to reach the youth/teen or above market with 93% of all applications rated 4+ or above.

In Summary

If you’re an application developer, it’s good to understand the economics of the app store.  Of course, these statistics above are specific to an individual day and only good for the U.S.  In the future, I’ll try and expand these statistics to include more regions and over a longer period of time.

Of course, if you’re not already building a native mobile application and would like to find out how, you should check out Appcelerator Titanium.  Titanium gives the power of building native applications to the web developer.

As of today, Titanium Developers have built over 4,453 applications for the app store – making Titanium developers collectively the 2nd largest publisher in the App Store. Congrats to the Appcelerator team and all the Titanium Developers!


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Jeff Haynie is co-founder and CEO of Appcelerator. He started Appcelerator to provide a true open-source solution to enterprise RIA and SOA-based services development, after growing frustrated by the limited options and complexity in other solutions through his own development work. Prior to starting Appcelerator, Haynie served as co-founder and CTO of Vocalocity and CTO of eHatchery, an extension of Bill Gross? ideaLab. Haynie is an expert software developer and entrepreneur. Haynie has been active in standards development, as well as a contributor to open-source projects, including early work on JBoss. For more on Jeff Haynie, visit his blog at http://blog.jeffhaynie.us.