Apple says consumers and advertisers spent more than $500 billion through apps last year

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, at the 2019 DreamForce conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Nov. 19, 2019.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple announced on Monday that its App Store facilitated an estimated $519 billion in billings and sales in 2019, according to a new study commissioned by the company.

The study from Analysis Group includes both transactions that Apple handles, such as paid apps and in-app purchases, as well as purchases and other economic activity that happened through iPhone and iPad apps where Apple wasn’t directly involved, such as sales of ads in apps.

It includes sales from online retailer apps like Target and Best Buy, travel booked through apps like Expedia and United, and rides hailed through Lyft and Uber. The estimate doesn’t include revenue from Apple’s own app subscriptions, such as Apple Music.

The announcement comes a week before Apple’s annual developer’s conference, WWDC, when it reveals the latest versions of its operating systems and persuades software makers to adopt the newest features and continue to support Apple platforms. Monday’s announcement suggests there’s a lot of money to be made from making iPhone and iPad apps.

Apple also frequently cites the App Store’s importance to the economy in response to political pressure on topics such as antitrust. Developers have alleged that Apple’s App Store platform is unfair to smaller companies and lawmakers have recently asked questions about specific App Store business practices. 

According to the study, the $519 billion generated through iPhone and iPad apps in 2019 includes:

  • $413 billion from physical goods and services, including $268 billion through retail apps, $57 billion through travel apps, $40 billion through ride-hailing apps, and $31 billion through food delivery apps
  • $61 billion from digital goods and services
  • $41 billion from in-app advertising

Apple takes a cut between 15% and 30% from purchases of software or digital goods from apps distributed through the App Store and regularly announces how much it has paid to developers — allowing analysts to obtain a rough estimate of how much revenue the App Store makes.

But the company has previously said that 84% of apps on the App Store do not share revenue with Apple. For streaming services like Hulu, for instance, users can subscribe and pay through a browser and watch on an iPhone app. Games might be free to download, and make money through ads inside the app. 

“In a challenging and unsettled time, the App Store provides enduring opportunities for entrepreneurship, health and well-being, education, and job creation, helping people adapt quickly to a changing world,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. 

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