Apple (AAPL) quietly disclosed today that its customers have downloaded 300 million apps for their iPhones and iPod touches (via a New York Times ad). That’s an impressive amount of downloads for a mobile software platform that’s not even six months old. But it doesn’t represent an acceleration in growth.
We estimate it took Apple 61 days to “ship” its first 100 million apps, and 43 days each for its 200 millionth and 300 millionth. Which means while the platform’s installed base has increased — Apple is surely selling more iPhones and iPod touches — downloads haven’t accelerated. (Unless, of course, Apple reached their milestone several days ago and didn’t announce it.)
That’s a bit disappointing. But compared to the rest of the mobile app industry, these are still impressive numbers.
We don’t know how many iPhones and iPod touches are out there, but let’s guess 20-30 million. That would mean average users have downloaded 10-15 apps per device — far more than most people download for any other mobile gadget.
Also, there’s a potential explanation for the lack of acceleration: We assume that downloads are front-loaded. People probably download a bunch of apps the first day they get their device, a few more over the next week, and then more slowly going forward.
What we don’t know how much money Apple has made selling apps so far, as a very large percentage of downloads are free.
But Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster told CNBC today that he still thinks iPhone apps could be a $1 billion market next year, with Apple receiving 30% of this — or $300 million. Nice, but not material to Apple’s revenue, which Munster expects to reach $38.9 billion next year.
How’d we calculate Apple’s download rate?
- During its Q4 earnings call in October, Apple announced that it would sell its 200 millionth app the next day, Oct. 22. We don’t know exactly when Apple sold its 300 millionth app. But let’s assume it was yesterday. That means it would have taken 43 days for Apple’s customers to download the latest 100 million apps, or about 2.3 million apps per day.
- Apple announced that it had sold 100 million apps on Sept. 9. So it took 43 days — from Sept. 10 to Oct. 22 — to reach 200 million apps, or about 2.3 million apps a day.
- Meanwhile, it took 61 days — from July 11 to Sept. 9 — to reach 100 million apps, or about 1.6 million apps per day.
- As we said, except for the Oct. 22 date, we don’t know when Apple actually reached their milestones. It’s possible Apple hit 300 million downloads several days ago but didn’t announce it. But roughly, it looks like app sales have been pretty stable over the last three months.
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