Apple paid $20 billion to developers in 2016

iPhone smartphone mobile apps

Apple users tend to spend a lot of money on apps. That much is obvious by looking at how much App Store developers earned last year. Apple puts the figure at a massive $20 billion, which, after taking into account the fact that it takes a 30 percent cut, would mean that the App Store generated -- at least -- $28.5 billion in revenue in 2016.

The actual revenue is likely to be higher -- though not by much -- because Apple also makes money in other ways, like through ads shown in the App Store's search results or Developer Program subscriptions. It just goes to show why so many major developers like it.


"2016 was a record-shattering year for the App Store, generating $20 billion for developers, and 2017 is off to a great start with January 1 as the single biggest day ever on the App Store", says Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller. Apple says that users spent $3 billion in December alone.

Developer revenue is up by a considerable margin over 2015, "up over 40 percent" according to Apple. Since launching in 2008, Apple says that it has paid over $60 billion to developers. It's one of the ways Apple manages to generate so much revenue.

One of the highly-anticipated titles of the year, Nintendo's Super Mario Run had over 40 million downloads in the four days after its launch. The app is free, but it has a $9.99 option which unlocks all the worlds in the game. If only a fraction of users took advantage of that in-app purchase, that's a lot of money in Nintendo's and Apple's pockets.

It was the most downloaded title across the globe on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, but the hugely popular Pokémon Go takes the first spot if we look at the whole year. The number of apps reached 2.2 million in 2016, up over 20 percent from 2015.

"Prisma, Reigns, Procreate, Lumino City, Sweat With Kayla and djay Pro, from some of Apple's independent developers, were among the most successful apps for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch and Mac, respectively", says Apple.

The top-grossing markets are US, China, Japan and UK. China, in particular, has major potential for growth, as Apple says that sales rose by 90 percent year-over-year. App Annie believes China is the highest-grossing market, actually, as it overtook US in the final quarter of 2016, thanks to estimated earnings of $1.7 billion.

Photo Credit: Twin Design /

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