When Apple execs take to the stage on Wed., March 7, reportedly to announce the next generations of iPad and Apple TV devices, the company also gets a monster metric to tout. As of Saturday, the Apple iTunes App Store had surpassed the 25 billion app download mark. The company had turned the countdown to 25 billion into a promotion and contest. Either the downloader of the 25 billionth app or the contest entry received immediately after the 24,999,999th app downloaded was to win a $10,000 credit to the App Store.
As of Saturday, when Apple.com changed its Web page to mark its passing the milestone, a winner has not been announced. At the same time, we may hear Apple -- which relies famously on Asian supply chains -- also tout its contributions to the American workforce.
“A billion thanks, 25 times over,” reads the new Apple.com front page. The contest was announced and started in mid-February. This 25 billion app milestone marks a rapid acceleration in the scaling up of Apple’s platform. It celebrated the 10 billionth app download in late January last year.
It took more than two years to reach the 10 billion mark, but little more than a year to move from 10 to 25 billion. The App Store launched on July 10, 2008, about a year after the first iPhone model appeared in stores.
While Android Market announced passing the 10 billion download milestone late last year, both Apple and Google claim they see about the same rate of downloads to both OS platforms -- about 1 billion a month, according to FierceDeveloper. But according to a report by app analysts Distimo, developers for iOS are seeing six times the revenue off this platform that they see from Android.
Also over the weekend, Apple unveiled a new page tallying the U.S. jobs its company directly or indirectly helped create. The Apple Job Creation page claims 514,000 U.S. jobs have been created by Apple -- 210,000 of which come from the iOS app economy. "The app revolution has added more than 210,000 iOS jobs to the U.S. economy since the introduction of iPhone in 2007," the site says. "And Apple has paid more than $4 billion in royalties to developers through the App Store."
The site says that currently there are more than 5,000 iOS-related app development jobs listing in the U.S. Apple has come under scrutiny recently for the conditions at its non-U.S. supply partners. And more broadly, economists have warned that the emerging digital economy the U.S. has helped fuel does not result in the kinds of domestic job creation we enjoyed from previous waves of product and manufacturing innovation in American history.
Apple has created a massive media platform with the App model that has generated new cottage industries like smartphone gaming. But the company’s own ability to leverage that scale and rich media capabilities as an ad platform is mixed. According to reports, Apple has continuously reduced the pricing on the once-extravagantly premium iAd format, as many advertisers recoiled at the model’s cost and reach.
And with great scale comes great confusion. With hundreds of thousands of discrete apps now available in the iOS ecosystem, consumers finding and developers surfacing apps has become a persistent challenge.
No doubt attempting to address the issues of discoverability and distribution, Apple recently acquired the app search engine Chomp, but the company has not discussed how it plans to integrate the technology in updating the App Store’s rudimentary search tool.