Apple is usually quiet around the beginning of the year, as its presence at CES is all but peripheral. But as we wait on the company to announce its first quarter earnings on Tuesday January 26th, it is intent on highlighting its considerable impact on developers’ lives, and the proliferation of mobile apps, through the continued success of the App Store.
The company says that it had a record-breaking holiday season in that regard, with customers spending $1.1 billion USD on apps and in-app purchases in the two weeks ending January 3rd. Its biggest single day, January 1st, was the largest in App Store history, at $144 million.
With investor trepidation surrounding the potential of Apple’s first Q1 without iPhone growth, the numbers speak to confidence within the company, and the reflection that even if the newest iPhones aren’t selling in numbers befitting the largest corporation in the world, its other models, including the iPhone 6 and 5s, are making up the difference. Indeed, this speaks to off-the-record conversations we had with numerous employees at carrier and dealer stores in the Toronto area around Christmas and Boxing Day, many of whom said that the iPhone 6 was by far the biggest seller out of all smartphones during the holiday season.
Apple notes that, worldwide, it has paid developers the equivalent of nearly $40 billion USD since the App Store opened in 2008 alongside iPhone OS 2 (later renamed iOS 2.0), with one third of that coming in the last 12 months. Apple attributes nearly 1.9 million jobs to the creation and maintenance of its app marketplace in the U.S., along with previously-shared numbers of 1.2 million in Europe and 1.4 million in China.
While it’s unclear how many new Apple TV boxes the company has sold, this year alone expanded the App Store to the set-top box, and, indirectly, the Apple Watch. Larger form factors like the iPad Pro also expanded the kinds of apps developers can create, led by the Apple Pencil.
On the Apple TV side, games such as Rayman Adventures and Beat Sports lead the way, while the Apple Watch attracts fitness and transit apps such as Nike+ Running and Citymapper, respectively. Whether Apple can turn these new platforms into meaningful source of revenue, however, remains to be seen.
Certainly, the revenue generators on the app side continue to be free-to-play games such as Clash of Clans and Game of War – Fire Age, which reportedly rake in millions of dollars each month to assuage players’ need to wait for items to build or spells to be cast.
It’s unclear whether Apple will announce a second-generation Apple Watch in March, but stirrings from parts suppliers suggest the company will do so alongside a refreshed 4-inch iPhone.