Apple has highlighted the economic importance of its app store ecosystem ahead of the WWDC developer conference. The company commissioned a study which revealed that iOS apps generated sales of over $1.1tn last year, including digital content and services as well as orders for physical products. This trend has grown continuously over the past four years, with the largest app-based purchases being for physical goods, followed by travel, food deliveries, shopping deliveries, driving services, and digital payment services. Digital content accounts for around 10% of sales, with the business of advertising in iOS apps alone worth over $100bn.
In addition to these findings, Apple has confirmed that it does not charge a commission on more than 90% of these sales. However, the company does demand a commission of up to 30% when digital content is sold directly in its iOS app. This requirement does not apply to physical goods. Large app providers including streaming, gaming, and dating sectors have criticised Apple for this commission, particularly when in direct competition with the company’s services, such as Spotify. Apple’s App Store celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. It currently remains the only means of making apps for iPhones and iPads available to the general public.
However, this rule may change in Europe due to the Digital Markets Act: Large platform operators, including Apple, will soon have to permit sideloading and alternative app stores. The study also states that general trade is shifting its focus more and more towards apps, especially in China. In Europe, Great Britain stands out with high sales of almost $50bn generated in apps. Meanwhile, app-based sales in Germany are projected to reach almost $20bn by 2022, with $15bn coming from physical goods and services.