Daily Archives: May 16, 2009

Those iPhone App Store Revenue Numbers

TechCrunch and Lightspeed Venture Partners this week worked on estimating Apple’s revenue gained from the iPhone App Store. 

The discussion struck an odd note with me for several reasons.   A far more useful analysis would be what percent of mobile (and other) application developers are building for Iphones, to the exclusion of others.  Understanding this will say a lot about APple’s continuing momentum in this space.  I am willing to bet that Apple likely has a huge number of mobile developers building for the Iphone, and where they need to make a choice, I expect they’ll likely fall in with Apple.  This is a way more important discussion than Apples’s revenue of the App Store for a few key reasons. 

First off, I’d view the strategic importance of the iPhone App platform as far higher priority to Apple than the revenue.  Don’t get me wrong, the revenue is great, but its way way way more important that Apple gets the share of the smart phone market (or whatever we’re calling it these days).  Having app developers building for your platform, because (1) lots of users use your device and (2) the developers themselves can make money will help ensure the Iphone stays competitive.  So far, Apple is basically crushing this, leaving all other mobile “app stores” in the dust. 

Second, the Lightspeed Venture post and TC’s reporting on it took an admittedly shallow view of revenue.  Lookingat pay versus free apps only on the Iphone App Store is a good proxy for now of where revenue is.  I expect it misses however the virtual currency buys that are able to be sold downstream (e.g., Zynga NLHE).   Point here is that the revenue and profit pool in the ecosystem as a whole is likely quite a bit higher than jsut the free/paid app numbers that Liew estimates. 

Third, if you buy into the first two arguments I’m making, then I think the interesting discussion here is how many developers are targeting Iphones versus other platforms?  My suspicion is that as the Iphone apps are presenting a clear route to revenue and profits for small teams of great developers, that this is ramping up quickly.  If this fact brought *zero* revenue through an app store to Apple, it would be worth it to Apple—to quote SteveB “developers, developers, developers.”  That Apple is making high margin revenue off of these Apps is of course awesome for Apple, kudos too them. 

The iPhone App numbers whatever they are, are awesome.  I’m hopeful though that we’ll soon receive good data indicating the mindshare and actions that great developers are taking in terms of which device/platforms they’re spending time writing for, as that’s the discussion that to me is most interesing

 

 

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