Despite a slew of antitrust cases and stiffer rules in some markets, Apple released new numbers today that show record App Store growth in 2021. In a press release, Apple stated that it has paid out more than $260 billion to app developers since the App Store first appeared in 2008, an increase from the $200 billion it disclosed at the end of 2020 — implying that Apple paid app developers at least $60 billion in 2021 alone.
That number is significantly higher than previous years’ awards.
Until comparison, Apple had paid developers a total of $155 billion since the launch of the App Store by the end of 2019. It had previously stated that the figure was around $120 billion. If you read between the lines, that means developer payouts increased by $35 million from 2018 to 2019, and then increased again by $45 billion from 2019 to 2020.
Unfortunately, because the percentages paid by individual apps will fluctuate, the payments statistic Apple published no longer helps to provide insight into the status of the App Store’s economy.
Following increased regulatory scrutiny of its App Store business practises, antitrust charges, and litigation — including the continuing dispute with Epic Games, which is now on appeal — Apple has modified its commission system to limit its own cut of developer revenue.
With the debut of Apple’s Small Business Program in November 2020, the firm cut its commission on qualified apps (those earning up to $1 million per year) from 30% to 15%. If news publishers choose to participate in Apple’s Apple News Partner Program, commissions for their applications will be eliminated in 2021. Apple hasn’t said how many developers and publishers have taken advantage of these chances, only that the “vast majority” of apps would be eligible for the small business business discount.
Apple appears to be toeing a thin line between its usual self-promotion and not drawing too much attention to its outsized gains in announcing another App Store record. Customers on the App Store spent “more than ever” between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in 2021, according to the business, resulting in double-digit growth from the previous year.
However, unlike last year, when it said consumers spent $1.8 billion on digital products and services over the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 2020, fueled mostly by game purchases, Apple did not provide any actual data to record this milestone.
The results released today come after an otherwise transitional year for the App Store.
Developer backlash has increased as a result of App Store frauds, which were the subject of a Congressional hearing, as well as ongoing issues with the App Review process. As a result of the Epic lawsuit verdict, Apple was required to make App Store adjustments that would have allowed links to third-party payment choices this year, but was later granted a last-minute reprieve from the court order while the case is appealed. Apple, on the other hand, has had to reduce its grip on the App Store in other areas, such as Japan and South Korea, where regulators urged Apple to allow links to external websites and take other steps to rein in its dominance.
Apple also provided updates on its other services companies, including Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness+, Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Podcasts, Apple Books, Apple Pay and Wallet, Apple Maps, and iCloud+, in addition to its App Store data.
Apple TV+ has won 190 industry awards, Apple Fitness+ has grown to include nearly 2,000 sessions of workout content, Apple News remains the No. 1 news app everywhere it’s available, Apple Pay has reached nearly 60 countries and regions, and customers used 30 million NFC tickets in Apple Wallet in 2021.