While spending on advertising, apps, digital payments, and entertainment such as music and gaming all contribute, this is just a portion of what drove the $519 billion in worldwide billing and sales for Apple's app ecosystem in 2019.
The study -- How Large is the Apple App Store Ecosystem? -- conducted by economic research consulting firm Analysis Group on behalf of Apple found that more than 85% of the estimated half a trillion "accrues solely to third parties."
Some $45 billion of the total came from in-app advertising -- 9% of the total -- for gaming and non-gaming. About $413 billion came from sales of physical goods and services came through apps -- 80% of the total -- which includes payment for ride hailing, food delivery and groceries, and $61 billion came from billings and sales of digital goods and services -- 12% of the total.
Non-gaming advertising in the U.S. contributed $13 billion, followed by $4 billion in China, $3 billion in Europe, $1 billion in Japan, and $3 billion for the rest of the world. Gaming in-app advertising is on par with non-gaming in each region for the exception of the U.S. In the U.S. gaming in-app advertising contributed $11 billion.
Direct monetization of apps is substantial, but it significantly underestimates the size of the Apple App Store ecosystem, according to the study, which is aimed at determining the total amount of sales. It focuses on third-party iPhone and iPad apps in 2019, but it also looks at the influence of app use from the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the mobile economy and the app ecosystem.
The study also notes that the estimate for the category of digital goods and services is not the same as App Store billings.
China accounted for $246 billion, or 47%, of total global billings and sales facilitated by the App Store ecosystem in 2019, while the U.S. accounted for $138 billion -- or 27% -- of the global total. Europe, Japan, and the rest of the world accounted for 10%, 7%, and 9%, respectively, of the global total, according to the study.
In the study’s footnotes it acknowledges that Apple takes a commission of between 15% and 30% for digital goods and services purchased through the App Store -- a practice that has drawn antitrust scrutiny in the United States and Europe.
The study also acknowledges that the analysis captures the major app monetization strategies in 2019, but it does not capture all of the ways the App Store ecosystem facilitates sales or all of the benefits created by apps.
For example, it does not include benefits that companies derive from providing free apps that work with, and improve, their products or services. Apple calls these “companion apps,” such as banking and finance apps, airline apps, smart home apps, and health apps.
While the findings do not estimate the financial growth resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, they do cite growth areas such as the use of educational and business collaboration apps, food and grocery delivery and mobile pickup ordering. There is also growth in health and fitness apps and an increase in consumer spending on mobile gaming and video streaming, as well as social apps.