I Am Rich

Steve Jobs: 60 million iPhone apps downloaded

August 11, 2008: 4:42 AM ET

It's been a month since the iPhone 3G and the App Store made their debut, and Steve Jobs used the occasion to offer up some selected facts and figures:

  • Users have now downloaded more than 60 million programs for the iPhone and iPod touch, or roughly 2 million per day.
  • Revenue from those applications came to about $30 million. 70% went to the developers; Apple kept 30%. (Free apps apparently accounted for the vast majority of the downloads, since average revenue per download is 50 cents.)
  • If sales continue at the current pace, Apple stands to clear at least $360 million a year. "This thing's going to crest a half a billion, soon," Jobs told the Wall Street Journal. "Who knows, maybe it will be a $1 billion marketplace at some point in time.... I've never seen anything like this in my career for software."
  • Of the $21 million that developers cleared in the first month, roughly $9 million went to the creators of the top 10 best sellers. Sega Corp., for example, says it sold more than 300,000 copies of its $9.99 Super Monkeyball game in 20 days.
  • Jobs believes a rich array of applications is what will distinguish the iPhone from competing cell phones. "Phone differentiation used to be about radios and antennas and things like that," he told the Journal. "We think, going forward, the phone of the future will be differentiated by software."

Apple had earlier reported that 10 million apps were downloaded in the first three days after launch. By July 21, that number had reached 25 million (see here). The latest number suggests that downloads have accelerated in the last 10 days, from July 21st's 1.25 apps per day to the current 2 apps per day.

Relations between Apple (AAPL) and its developers have not been smooth, however (see Trouble in the App Store). Jobs commented on one of the hot-button issues: He confirmed that the iPhone operating system contains a kill switch that gives Apple the capability to reach into an iPhone (presumably during a sync operation) and remove a malicious application.

"Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull," he said.

Separately, an Apple spokeswoman defended the decision to pull a program called I Am Rich, which cost $999.99 and did nothing but display the image of a ruby on the iPhone's screen, off the App Store shelves. She characterized it as a "judgment call."

Jobs did not use the occasion of the iPhone 3G's one-month anniversary to report how many of the devices Apple has sold. He may be saving that number for another day -- and another round of headlines.

[Fortune's Scott Moritz reported Monday that at least one analyst puts iPhone sales for the first month at 3 million units. See here.]

UPDATE: Gigaom's Om Malik, who says he has downloaded three dozen apps but only likes four of them, adds some interesting data about how many of those 60 million apps are in active use. He cites research by New York-based Pinch Media, which reports that free downloads to paid downloads is about 10 to 1. Moreover:

"According to data collected by Pinch Media, on average, less than 20% of an application's overall unique users return to an application each day. [CEO Greg] Yardley also pointed out that people are using the apps for just under five minutes at a time, on average. The majority only use the applications once per day - average number of uses per day is around 1.2." (link)

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