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paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

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5. Apple

Diversified, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #3

Photo: UMCPortal / Flickr

Digital Content Revenue

$5,400,000,000 (4% of total)

Digital Snapshot

Spoti-who? Apple still owns the overwhelming majority of sales in a music market that has itself become mostly digital. Though the company lost its talisman this year, the iTunes Store is the gift that keeps on giving to troubled content makers, having diversified in to apps, books, newspapers, periodicals and, less successfully, TV shows and movies. It has provided proof, on the whole, that consumers will pay for digital content, though debate on that question continues to rage.

Key Move

Apple made it possible to process more transactions in more places. Introducing in-app subscriptions proved controversial for the 30 percent it takes but has helped content owners build regular, recurring sales. It attributed a 33 percent rise in content sales mostly to expansion to new territories like Latin America pushing up App Store sales.

Our Methodology

Apple disclosed combined iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore sales on page 31 of its annual 10K SEC return for the year ending September 24, 2011, That was prior to its introduction of Newsstand.

Source: SEC 10k: 2011 Annual Return

— RA

21 Responses to “paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies”

  1. Good Job Mr. Robert

    I am a freelancing SEO and SMM professional. The recent update of google penguin and panda has changed the SEO pattern radically.

    And google has done this algorithm change to spread their digital ads business nothing than this.

    I really hate this because, making loss to others for their own profit is a Digital Crime and Weak Business policy from my view. Check my site Arsenal Highlights

  2. ciaranj

    If you want to rank things on revenue, fine. But then don’t call it the ‘Most Succesful List’: Microsoft might ‘make’ $3.9b on digital content, but it also loses around $3b every year too.

  3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I think this is a terrific list despite any reservations some people have about the methodology. It really demonstrates the huge growth potential of digital media companies in some of the emerging markets. Also, as a scientist – I note Elsevier being top 5 in revenue (Elsevier is publisher behind many of the top scientific journals).

  4. Mindbendingpuzzles

    What about Valve and their digital games platform: Steam. I know they are a private company and figures are hard to come by but in 2011 Forbes reckoned they have more than 50% of the 4 billion dollar PC games download market. That is huge.

    I would really love to see Paid Content do some investigation on Valve because they are an incredibly innovative company who really push digital retailing to its limits.

  5. Groupon and Monster are’t really media companies. I’m not even sure that ad agencies should qualify in the same category as Viacom or Time Warner. Totally different business model.

  6. Brendan

    Why is eBay not in this list? They have an ad business on and their classified sites, and the seller fees they collect are essentially paid ads since the platform doesn’t handle the items. This list is also missing Alibaba Group from China (including Taobao), and Gree from Japan.

  7. Zato Gibson

    “Creating this list wasn’t easy.”

    I can imagine. Manipulating the numbers to get Microsoft into the top 10 must have been really tough.