In its antitrust trial with Epic Games, which has just adjourned, Apple argued it doesn’t evaluate its App Store profit and loss as a standalone business. But today, the company put out new figures that indicate it does have a good understanding of the money that flows through its app marketplace, at the very least. The company has now released an updated version of a study performed by the economists at the Analysis Group, which claims the App Store ecosystem facilitated $643 billion in billings and sales in 2020, up 24% from the $519 billion seen the year prior. The new report focuses on the pandemic impacts on apps and small business developers.
The App Store serves, among other things. It also noted that about 90% of the billings and sales facilitated by the App Store actually took place outside its walls, meaning Apple took no commission on those purchases. This is up from the 85% figure reported last year and is a figure Apple has been using in antitrust battles to paint a picture of an App Store that facilitates a lot of commerce where it doesn’t take a commission. The study then broke down how the different categories of App Store billings and sales were distributed.
Apple takes a commission on the sales of digital goods and services, which were $86 billion in 2020, or 13% of the total. But another $511 billion came from the sale of physical goods and services through apps — think online shopping, food delivery, ride-hailing, etc. — or 80% of the total. These aren’t commissioned. And $46 billion came from in-app advertising or 7% of the total. The more significant point with some of these figures is that, while the dollar amount flowing through apps being commissioned is large, it’s much smaller than most of the business being conducted on the App Store. The report also noted how much of that business originates from China, which accounted for 47% of total global billings and sales ($300B) versus the U.S.’s 27% ($175+B).