Following Apple’s announcement of record-breaking app sales in the holiday shopping season, Asymco’s Horace Dediu did some number-crunching, and came up with some surprising facts.

Not least among them is the clear pointer that iOS app sales will be worth more than the entire worldwide movie industry at some point this year …

Dediu noted back in 2015 that App Store billings overtook gross US box office takings, and observed then that it was only a matter of time before the same would be true globally. In his latest post, he includes a graph (below) that shows just how close we are now to the crossover point.

While Apple tends to tout developer earnings, which hit $26.5B in 2017, Asymco looks at estimates of total spend – taking into account Apple’s cut also. Given the lower 15% commission on app subscriptions, the total is an estimate rather than a hard number, but will be in the right ballpark.

Developer revenue exceeds McDonalds revenue

Other interesting comparisons drawn in the piece:

  • Developer payment rate is now above $25 billion/yr. I’ve been notified via Twitter that this is higher than the revenue of McDonald’s Corporation in 2016.
  • During this year iOS users will be spending about $100 million per day for Apps. This was Google’s AdWords revenue rate in 2012.
  • The spending on App Store has been rising steadily, adding about $5 billion/yr since mid 2011.
  • Apps are the biggest component of Apple services and helped that segment gross over $57 billion in 2017, passing Fortune 100 level (net of developer payments).

The growth rate in app developer income is around 33% per year.

Dediu also argues that total spend on apps is only part of the story. Many large companies offer free apps, which still generate substantial revenue – from Amazon to Uber. Add in the value of all that economic activity, and the number hits $180B a year and counting.

Based on assumptions of revenue rates for mobile services and iOS share of engagement, my estimate of the economic activity on iOS for 2017 is about $180 billion. Including hardware sales, the iOS economy cleared about $380 billion in revenues 2017.

At the current rate of growth, Asymco predicts that the iOS economy will be worth half a trillion dollars by 2019.

Photo: Pleasantdale

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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