Apple customers have collectively downloaded 25 billion apps from the App Store, the company has announced on its webpage. That’s more than three apps per person in the world.
The milestone signals not only a vast appetite for apps, but also growing smartphone penetration and Apple profits (the company takes a 30% cut from every app or in-app purchase).
People with iOS devices are downloading an increasing number of apps. One 2011 study, for instance, concluded iOS owners download about 60 apps each, which is 50 more apps that the same researcher found each iOS owner downloaded in 2008.
And as the number of apps per device has grown, so has the number of devices. In a 2011 Pew Survey, 35% of the 2,277 U.S. adults questioned in English or Spanish said that they owned a smartphone. Pew released another study this week that found this percentage has since jumped to 46%. More Americans now own smartphones than feature phones, and the world bought 37 million of them from Apple last quarter alone.
Growing app downloads and growing device sales are a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation: Do people buy iPhones because they want to download apps or do they download apps because they have iPhones?
Combined net sales for the iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore in 2011 was $5.4 billion — just 6% of Apple’s net sales, but a 33% increase compared to 2010.
Whether devices are driving app sales or the app store is driving device sales (or, more realistically, some combination of both), growing app demand and growing mobile device penetration have served Apple’s bottom line quite nicely.
The company reported its highest revenue and earnings ever last quarter. If you go by its market cap, it is now worth more than all the tea in China.
In this context, the $10,000 gift card Apple promised to give away when it hit the 25 billionth app from its App Store looks less over-the-top. Apple hasn’t yet announced the winner, but considering that to enter the contest, users were required to agree to publicly share some App Store picks with the Apple community if they won, we’ll likely be meeting the lucky winner soon.