2 Years Later, the Facebook App Platform is Still Thriving

In a few weeks, the Facebook application platform will mark its second anniversary. While it garnered lots of press coverage in the months after it launched, the arrival of the iTunes app store shifted attention away from Facebook’s vibrant ecosystem. The media glow is understandable: among other things, the younger iTunes platform is adding apps at a much faster rate than Facebook or Myspace.


Games comprise a sizable chunk of app revenues in all three platforms and recent stories suggest that 2009 has been a great year for developers. The substantial revenue generated by popular Facebook (and Myspace) apps has been the subject of articles in VentureBeat, TechCrunch, and Inside Facebook. There have also been recent estimates for the revenue generated by iPhone apps (see here and here). Game developers in particular are benefiting from having a multitude of platforms: Games are the largest iTunes category, and the second largest category in both Facebook and Myspace. In addition, 4 of the top 10 most successful Facebook app providers are Game developers.

With the 2-year anniversary of Facebook’s platform a few weeks away, I’ve put together an overview of the current state of Facebook and Myspace apps. At a time when iTunes attracts most of the media coverage, the Facebook & Myspace (particularly Facebook) platforms are quietly producing apps and developers with impressive usage numbers. Over the past week, there were more than 29,000 app sellers on the Facebook platform. Over 2% of those sellers released apps with at least 100,000 combined active users. Close to 700 different Facebook apps had at least 100,000 active users over the last month. Over the past month, 49,000 Facebook apps had at least 50 active users:


Usage numbers are important because advertising is a popular source of revenue for many Facebook, Myspace, and iPhone apps. Some Facebook and Myspace apps (especially Games) also rely on points systems and virtual items to generate revenue — both of which benefit from high usage numbers. More details, including a list of the top developers and usage stats, in the slides below.

[ Related Radar Posts: I recently released an overview of iTunes app sellers and a summary of trends in Facebook Demographics. ]

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  • Great overview. It undeniable that applications are growing at a rapid rate. It would be interesting to see which brands are performing the best with different applications.

  • Hi Ben,

    Good report on the state of the app platforms! There are indeed sustainable businesses being built on the Platform…

    I think the survey on payment growth on slide 26 is from the following source, though it isn’t cited in the slide:



    • Justin,

      Thanks for pointing out the proper reference for the survey on slide 26. I’ve corrected it, but you may have to empty your browser’s cache to see the change.


  • Ben,

    I was tweeting all over trying to find more recent numbers from you guys as I remember the facebook 2007 report but couldn’t find it on your site, so I love this report for its timing first.

    Side 2 has a typo – says july09 for itunes store launch.

    Why do you refer to Iphone apps as itunes, it is confusing, itunes store sells iphone apps so do you want to refer to the app store?

    I love how you have normalized “active” across facebook, myspace and iphone apps.

    29,000 developers with active apps/week on facebook is the most impressive number that stands out!

    • Sudha,

      Thanks for pointing out the typo, it’s fixed.

      RE: iTunes vs. iPhone
      The iTunes App Store is how Apple refers to its collection of apps. Moreover, the most apps also run on an iPod Touch. So when I use the term iTunes, it’s usually a shortcut to mean the “iTunes App Store”.


  • Where’s the y-axis scale on that first graph? And certainly “O’Reilly Research” can’t be the actual source? It’s difficult to know what to make of that without knowing what the data actually is and where it came from.

    • Jeffrey,

      Scale on the first graph was omitted by design, to emphasize trends rather than values.

      O’Reilly Research maintains a massive data warehouse that includes data from a wide variety of sources. O’Reilly Research gathers data directly from Facebook, Myspace, and iTunes.


  • Thanks for sharing.