The latest report covering app store sales from research firm Distimo is out, and it offers revealing insights into the early success of the Mac App Store, and how that most recent extension of Apple’s digital software sales compares to the iPhone, iPad and competitor app marketplaces. The report features some key takeaways for developers operating in Apple’s software ecosystem.
The news is good for Apple. Just two months into launch, an application in the top 300 on the Mac App Store already generates half as much revenue as one in the top 300 on the iPad App Store. Considering the age of the distribution channel, and the fact that the Mac App Store isn’t guaranteed to be universally present on every Mac running OS X (it only shipped with OS X 10.6.6, released officially on Jan. 6 and not all users keep their OS up to date) means those numbers should only continue to grow as adoption increases among the general Mac user population.
It’s good news for developers, too, since according to the report, the average selling price of a Mac App Store title ($11.21) in the top 300 list is seven times greater than the average selling price of an iPhone app ($1.57), and three times that of an iPad app ($4.19). Also, free apps remain much more of a rarity on the platform. Only 12 percent of the apps on the Mac App Store are free. If revenues remain high as Mac App Store usage and reach grows, it could become a haven for developers who are wary of trying to compete among the bargain basement offerings of the iOS App Stores.
The real opportunity here as I see it is for developers to capitalize on the availability of all three platforms by offering connected solutions for each. So far, only 173 publishers distribute apps in more than one store, and the Mac App Store is one of those multiple stores in only 5 percent of cases. Offering apps across all three platforms would benefit many apps, providing a way to encourage growth for brands that are strong in the iOS space but don’t yet have a presence on the OS X platform, and a way to offset the low per-unit revenues garnered by iOS apps with higher-priced Mac-based offerings. Developers hoping to gain greater visibility in the App Store ecosystem should also note that Apple tends to highlight apps that appear across all of its platforms, and even built a special section specifically to house those titles (App Store link).
The new Distimo report also shows the Apple App Store ecosystem as still out ahead of the Android store by a wide margin, especially when it comes to the availability of paid applications, even when the iPhone and iPad App Stores are viewed as separate entities. The iPhone App Store alone has 314,644 apps in total, while the Android marketplace has around 175,000.
The Mac App Store has about 2,674 apps available, which is far less than the 8,099 apps the iPad App Store had available two months following its launch, but unlike on the iPad, the Mac App Store isn’t the only (officially approved) available method of distribution for platform software. The option to continue with boxed sales, direct digital downloads and other software distribution platforms like Steam no doubt contributes to slower developer investment in Apple’s own solution.
One final key takeaway from Distimo’s report is that the Mac App Store seems to be prompting a renewed interest in Mac gaming, an area where Apple’s computing platform has traditionally been lacking. Distimo found that just under 40 percent of the most popular Mac App Store apps are games, which productivity apps and utilities coming in a distant second with just over 10 percent each. Personally, I’ve already purchased more games form the Mac App Store than any other kind of software, and the availability of marquee titles like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Call of Duty 4 in addition to more casual titles bodes well for the future of Mac gaming.