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.

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