Apple claims 'half a trillion dollars' App Store economy

BBC Technology 15 Jun 2020 09:25
By Leo Kelion Technology desk editor
Apple apps

Apple has said that its App Store ecosystem "facilitated half a trillion dollars" of trade in 2019.

The firm said more than 85% of that figure occurred via transactions from which it did not take a commission.

The announcement comes at a time Apple and other US tech giants are facing increased anti-competition scrutiny.

A leading developer has also called on the iPhone-maker to lower the fees it charges, ahead of its annual developers' conference next week.

An Apple representative told the BBC that it was proud of the commerce that it had enabled and welcomed scrutiny of its App Store.

Work and leisure

The study was commissioned by Apple but carried out by economists at the Boston-based consultancy Analysis Group.

It surveyed billings and sales related to apps running on the tech firm's iOS, Mac, Watch and Apple TV platforms.

This included:

  • in-app advertising via apps such as Twitter and Pinterest

Likewise it subtracted a proportion of the charge of in-app purchases whose content was used elsewhere - for example a Now TV subscription taken out via Sky's app, if most of the shows were then watched directly on a TV's own app.

In total, the economists said $519bn (£406bn) had been generated via Apple's software ecosystem. The figure excludes sales generated by the Android and Windows versions of the same products.

By contrast, digital goods and services - from which Apple typically takes a 30% cut - accounted for $61bn.

Developer unrest

News site Axios said on Friday that the committee also planned to compel Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook to disclose internal documents about their digital markets if they did not share them voluntarily.

Apple plans to host its Worldwide Developers Conference next week. Ahead of the event, a leading software developer published his own list of concerns about Apple's business practices.

  • a reduction in Apple's cut of digital sales from 30% to 20%
  • the right to charge upgrade fees for major changes to software
  • an end to ads in the App Store to prevent search results for a specific item giving prominence to a competitor's product

"It's keen to remind people that it has had to work to build this platform. But now it has become so powerful, it's unsurprising that people are questioning whether the original terms of engagement are still fair."

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