Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

If Apple were Twitter, how much would Wall Street pay for it?

November 11, 2013: 6:59 AM ET

An active iTunes user generates $48 of revenue per year. A Twitter user, $1.36.

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 11-11-11.50.23 AM

Source: Asymco.com

FORTUNE -- Now that Twitter (TWTR) has gone public, we can calculate -- as George Anders has --  that each active Twitter user is worth, by Wall Street's valuation, $110.

So how does Wall Street value Apple's (AAPL) iTunes/iCloud ecosystem? That's harder to say.

"We don't hear much about how Apple is worth so many dollars per user," writes Asymco's Horace Dediu. After all, Apple's value is driven primarily by the sales of its devices -- iPhones, iPads, Macs etc.

But Apple does have active online users -- about 500 million on iOS alone -- and Dediu took a crack Monday at calculating how much each contributes to Apple's revenue stream.

His estimate: $48 per user per year on iTunes and iCloud alone. A Twitter user, by comparison, generates $1.36 -- one thirty-fifth as much.

"The paradox," Dediu concludes in What's an Active User worth?, "is that while the device which enables this commerce is where Apple guides the consumer's perception of value, markets discount devices and bid up services. In other words, users continue to pay for the devices which delight them enough to participate in services (especially the monthly billable kind) but markets walk right by these shiny baubles and and shower money on services which have negligible sales and even fewer profits. There must be some serious misdirection going on here. The question is who's being fooled."

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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