The App Store economy grew to a whopping $643 billion in 2020

We’re a few months into 2021 now, and this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference is right around the corner. So it’s the perfect time to promote just how well the App Store (and developers) did in 2020. And according to Apple’s press release today, it did very well.

Apple is promoting a new study that shows just how well the economy associated with its digital storefront did last year. All in all, things were looking up for Apple last year, with a 24 percent year-over-increase associated with App Store total billings and sales. That raised the stakes to $643 billion in 2020 alone. Apple says part of the new study is to show just how impactful small businesses are in the App Store, and how far their reach can grow because of the digital storefront.

The new study is called “A Global Perspective on the Apple App Store Ecosystem.” Apple says that the number of small developers all across the world has shot up significantly, up 40 percent since 2015. What’s more, they apparently make up more than 90 percent of developers found using the App Store as of today. For reference, the study indicates that small developers are identified as having apps with fewer than 1 million downloads, and less than $1 million in earnings in a given year.

Apple's promotional image for the WWDC 2021 showing Memojis representing two female developers and one female developers starring at their computer screens
Image Credit: Apple</small

From the report:

Developers on the App Store prove every day that there is no more innovative, resilient or dynamic marketplace on earth than the app economy,” says Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The apps we’ve relied on through the pandemic have been life-changing in so many ways — from groceries delivered to our homes, to teaching tools for parents and educators, to an imaginative and ever-expanding universe of games and entertainment. The result isn’t just incredible apps for users: it’s jobs, it’s opportunity, and it’s untold innovation that will power global economies for many years to come.

The report shows that Apple saw a total of $643 billion in total billings and sales from the App Store in 2020. Interestingly, the report also says that 90% of “total billings and sales occurred outside of the App Store.”

More from the release, this time from Aditya Mohatta, who launched a learning app for kids back in 2012:

To know that children in 174 countries have played our songs more than half a billion times — it means a lot to us, especially as fathers,’ says Aditya Mohatta. ‘This growth has meant we can create stable jobs for people in our communities. Some of our team members purchased their first homes — that is something we are especially proud of, because in India, buying a home is considered a very big step in one’s life. And during the pandemic, we were able to donate food and medical supplies, including oxygen concentrators, for those who were in dire need.

Many app developers see a general incline in sales over time:

More than 1 in 4 small developers who sell digital goods and services on the App Store have grown their earnings by an average of at least 25 percent each year for the past five years. Nearly 80 percent of small developers on the App Store are active across multiple countries’ storefronts — and on average, these developers see earnings from users in more than 40 countries.

This timing might seem interesting with the fact the Epic Games vs. Apple antitrust trial wrapped up last month. However, this is just par for the course for Apple leading into the week-long WWDC. Apple published a similar release last year, too. It’s all about just showing how impressive the App Store is (and it is), as it ramps up promoting not only developers, but also the App Store and its other software elements at WWDC.