updated 07:45 am EDT, Mon August 11, 2008
60m iPhone App Downloads
Over 60 million iPhone and iPod touch apps have been downloaded in the one month since the iPhone 2.0 firmware has been available, Apple chief Steve Jobs tells the Wall Street Journal. The electronics company co-founder in a rare interview reveals that while most App Store downloads are free, paid apps in the first month have averaged about $1 million in sales per day for a total of $30 million for the first month. Maintaining the current rate would generate approximately $360 million, though Jobs estimates that this is likely to increase over time and is unprecedented compared to his experience with Macs.
"I've never seen anything like this in my career for software," he says, adding that sales could "crest a half a billion" in short order and that $1 billion could arrive "at some point."
Jobs nonetheless downplays the App Store as a profit generator, noting that Apple's 30 percent revenue share primarily addresses operating costs and that the software store, as with iTunes, exists in large part to spur iPhone and iPod sales.
Third-party developers have already reported unusually rapid download and sales rates rates. Sega reports having sold over 300,000 copies of Super Monkey Ball at $9.99 each in 20 days, earning nearly $3 million before Apple's cut over the period; Epocrates' self-titled medicine software is free but has resulted in 125,000 downloads so far, already matching about 25 percent of the 500,000 downloads for non-Apple devices.
Apple does acknowledge that it has a "kill switch" option to revoke the rights of an app to run regardless of its features, but that such a feature is necessary in case a rogue application is inadvertently allowed on the store and creates problems for users. It would be "irresponsible" not to have the ability to "pull that lever," Jobs says.
Separately, an Apple spokeswoman provides little explanation for why certain apparently inoffensive apps have been removed from the App Store, saying only that the company had to make a "judgment call" in pulling the $999.99 I Am Rich app that had nothing more than cosmetic appeal.
Regardless of complications, however, the features and success of the App Store and iPhone are described by analyst Richard Doherty of Envisioneering Group as luring away developers from competing platforms, including Windows Mobile and Google's upcoming Android platform. The latter has allegedly been losing support to the iPhone and competing phone platforms that have a larger existing base and more promise of short-term success. Jobs himself doesn't speculate on the company's influence but states that hardware is ultimately secondary.
"Phone differentiation used to be about radios and antennas and things like that," he explains. "We think, going forward, the phone of the future will be differentiated by software."