Million dollar babies: 164 companies made their first $1 million from Apple's US App Store this year, powered by in-app subscriptions

  • 164 publishers made over $US1 million for the first time this year in the United States from selling apps for iPhone, according to a new analysis.
  • That’s significantly higher than the number Android apps to make $US1 million or more for the first time, which was 88.
  • Many of the newly successful apps use in-app subscriptions, which bill users on a regular basis.

It’s completely possible to develop a million-dollar business by selling apps for iPhones and iPads through Apple’s App Store.

In fact, 164 different app developers marked their first $US1 million year in the United States in 2018, according to a new analysis from Sensor Tower, an analytics firm focusing on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

It’s a sign that despite Apple’s much-criticised 30% cut of in-app purchases and sometimes arbitrary rules, it’s still possible to create a real business on the App Store. “The booming App Store ecosystem is responsible for more than 1.5 million American jobs,” Apple said in a press release earlier this month.

“The number of publishers with their first $US1 million or greater year on the U.S. App Store grew by approximately 15 per cent over 2017, when we found that 143 achieved this milestone,” Sensor Tower analysts wrote. 88 app publishers had their first $US1 million year on the U.S. Google Play store in 2018, too.

Although some of the new $US1 million publishers sold games – about 33% – there were a lot of publishers that focused on lifestyle and health apps. Many of those publishers also used a new kind of billing method strongly backed by Apple: recurring subscriptions.

“Both of the categories with the greatest year-over-year growth in terms of numbers among new million-dollar publishers-Lifestyle and Health & Fitness-were ones where there is a strong focus on generating revenue through in-app subscriptions, whether it be from fitness tracking, guided meditation, premium dating services, etc,” Sensor Tower analyst Randy Nelson told Business Insider in an email.

For example, one new $US1 million app is called Breethe. It’s a meditation and relaxation app. While it’s free to download, membership costs $US12.99 per month.

The top 20 subscription apps that aren’t games saw revenue grow 57% this year, Nelson added.

Check out the full analysis at Sensor Tower.

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