Apple passes $70B in app developer payouts, led by games and entertainment

Apple may finally get overtaken by Android in developer revenues this year (or so the analysts say), but today the iPhone maker passed a milestone of its own: the company said it has passed $70 billion in payouts to app developers, up from $50 billion about a year ago, after taking its commission.

And despite the fact that new smartphone purchases appear to have fallen off a cliff as many large markets reach saturation, growing just three percent in the last year, there is still a strong motor behind the apps ecosystem.

Apple says that in the past year (12 months), downloads are up “over 70 percent,” led by top games like Pokémon GO and Super Mario Run but also a range of other apps that include CancerAid, SPACE by THIX, Zones for Training with Exercise Intensity, Vanido, Ace Tennis and Havenly.

Indeed, perhaps unsurprisingly (this has been the case for years now) games and entertainment also continue to lead in terms of top-grossing categories. Lifestyle apps, as well as Health and Fitness, “have experienced over 70 percent growth in the past year,” Apple said, while photo and video are the fastest-growing up nearly 90 percent in the last year.

The comments come in the lead up to Apple’s annual developers’ conference, WWDC, and as such is a timely announcement.

Taking all Android handset makers, Google’s operating system has been outselling the iPhone for years now in terms of smartphone unit sales, but Apple has traditionally been seen as the most-profitable and most-used platform when it comes to apps on devices.

Now, however, some estimate that Google’s Android (that is, the official Google Play store plus other Android stores) may finally start to surpass Apple in revenues: figures from March from App Annie note that while it expects Apple to generate $60 billion in revenue annually by 2021, Google Play will bring in $42 billion and other Android stores $36 billion. With today’s announcement, Apple is keen to show that it’s continuing to yield benefits to app makers and publishers.

“People everywhere love apps and our customers are downloading them in record numbers,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, in a statement. “Seventy billion dollars earned by developers is simply mind-blowing. We are amazed at all of the great new apps our developers create and can’t wait to see them again next week at our Worldwide Developers Conference.”

Along with this, Apple has been pushing new payment methods to improve how people in different kinds of economies can make in-app purchases. This has included adding carrier billing, where you can charge an app payment to your phone bill, or link it with your pre-pay credits — especially important to make headway in markets where credit card penetration is lower.

This also goes for subscriptions. While Apple takes a 30 percent cut on regular in-app payments, the percentage goes down to 15 percent for subscriptions over one year.

Apple says that since subscriptions are now open to developers across all 25 app categories, active paid subscriptions are up 58 percent year over year. Apple called out apps for Netflix and Hulu as leaders here, as well as the cooking app Tastemade, and photo apps Over and Enlight.