The Top Paid Apps in the iTunes App Store

With the recent launch of the Android app market, I thought it would be a good time to give a quick update on the iTunes app store. For now, there are only a handful of apps in the Android market. Developers will be able to start uploading their apps this coming Monday. In the meantime, the rival iTunes app store keeps growing: there are now well over 5,000 apps.


To put the growth in number of apps in context, I decided to look at our data on the Facebook and Myspace platforms. Unfortunately, we got off to a later start in tracking Facebook and Myspace so the graph below corresponds to growth well after their launch dates. While not an exact comparison (data for the iTunes App store is from launch), the resulting graph is still impressive:


I had an earlier post where I talked about the various categories of apps: nothing major has changed on that front. I will do an updated post on categories and other app store topics, but for now I’ll focus on the Top 100 paid apps. Since iTunes highlights the Top 100 Paid apps, making it onto that list translates to free exposure.

The Top 100 rankings change constantly throughout the day. They are based on “popularity”, but I haven’t been able find details of how the rankings are computed (and how often). In any given week applications cycle in-and-out of the Top 100. On average (over the last four weeks) about 136 different apps spent time in the Top 100. But in recent weeks there has been a small decline in the number of apps that made the Top 100:


The average price of a Top 100 paid app has been declining steadily. In mid-August, the average was around $4. Recently, the average price of a Top 100 app was down to about $2.80.


The decline in average price is not just due to expensive/outlier apps dropping out of the Top 100. The corresponding price distribution has been shifting downward slowly over time as it has become harder for high-priced apps to crack the list. Other notable characteristics of Top 100 paid apps:

  • An app can be in-and-out of the Top 100 list over several weeks. On average, an app is on the list on 4 separate calendar (Monday to Sunday) weeks.
  • On average an app cracks the Top 100 list sometime before the end of the second calendar week after its launch.
  • Revenue is harder to estimate without number of downloads/installs. If one had download data on enough apps, then a statistical model could lead to estimates for the rest.

    We will continue to track the iTunes app store and post interesting trends here on Radar. The app store has clearly intensified interest in the iPhone. Apple sold over 6.8M iPhones last quarter, and Q4 revenues for the iPhone were up 583% compared to the same period last year.

    tags: , ,
    • Thank you Ben. Read earlier post too. Both have great data, analysis. Pricing curve over time particularly insightful perhaps showing rationalization of expectations. Could use median and mode values. Also wonder if this is happening across the board or w/in app genres.

      Liked your linkage to Q4 iPhone revenues. Though you’d have to caveat the heck out of it, I’d love to see your initial take on traffic, revenue for average and top applications / developers.

    • John Styles

      Do we know
      a) the average number of free apps installed per iPhone / iPod Touch
      b) the average number of paid for apps installed per iPhone / iPod Touch
      c) the average spend per iPhone / iPod Touch?

      • John,

        I don’t have data to answer your specific questions, but one can do back of the envelope calculations to get the number of apps per device.

        200M iTunes app downloads (through Q4-2008; from earnings call podcast)
        iPhones Sold = 13M (through Q4-2008)
        iPod Touch Units Sold = 13.7M (through Q4-2008, assumes 25% of iPods sold are Touches)

        200M / (13 + 13.7) = 7.49 apps per device.


    • John Styles

      Wow, that’s quite impressive. I assume that downloads of updates don’t count as new downloads!

    • For those who can’t use iTunes at work:
      a href=””>View the TOP PAID APPS without iTunes

    • Emmanuel Bellity

      Hi Ben,

      Here are some data you may find interesting:

      It is giving an estimate of the number of downloads of most downloaded iPhone apps, in a method similar to what you suggested above.


    • Mike J

      Great info! If your going to spend that $2.80 and watching a baseball game. Play Pass the Cup Baseball and save 80c. Enjoy!