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The average iPhone app sells 25,000 units

By on October 6, 2009
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At the IBC legal conference I attended last week, I received some interesting iPhone download statistics.

The key point was that even as the number of iPhone applications has proliferated to 75,000, and over 1.8 billion apps have been downloaded, the average number of downloads per app has remained remarkably constant at around 25,000. The charts below show the story (click to see them at full size).


Number of iPhone applications and downloads

Number of applications and total number of downloads from the AppStrore Number of applications and total number of downloads from the AppStrore

The average doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s a mean, which assumes that downloads are evenly distributed. It is much more likely that some applications have a million downloads and some have almost none. A median would be more useful, but I don’t have the data for that.

Nevertheless, the trend line shows that despite the proliferation of titles on the AppStore, the average app has, consistently, had 25,000 downloads.

Which should give heart to aspiring iPhone developers the world over.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • Dude

    I did not understand your math but can you do this for the current date?

  • Enemy dawn

    Spring release for Enemy Dawn app.

  • Lamare

    You code?

  • Jan

    my app has only 150 free downloads for last 3 days and only one paid 🙁

  • I can not express my feeling now,just can say i like you

  • micha

    using
    f(k;s,N)=frac{1/k^s}{sum_{n=1}^N (1/n^s)}.

    as formula
    where k is rank, s=1 (exponent of inverse relation), N=total num of applications

  • micha

    thanks Luke, small update if you plug in new numbers from wikipedia you get (end of march 2010)
    f(75,000,1,150,000)=3*10^9(1/75,000)/12.495 = ~3200 median download

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  • I like this info…

  • Good Article! It would also be interesting to find out how the “average” paid app does in sales.

  • Good Article! It would also be interesting to find out how the “average” paid app does in sales.

  • Um, I just did it with these 2 lines of Python 🙂

    total = sum([(1.0 / r) for r in range(1, 25000)])
    print 1800000000 * (1.0 / 37500) / total

    I'm sure there must be some statistical software that lets non-programmers look at distributions, but I don't know of it. It's probably possible in Excel somehow too.

  • That's a really interesting analysis. I hadn't heard of the Zipf Law before. Where exactly do you “plug the numbers in”?

  • Of course, the median is really far more important to “the average” developer, so it would be interesting to see that. As a quick thought experiment, I tried plugging in these numbers to the “Zipf Law” (downloads inversely proportional to rank) – which is commonly observed in “long tail” situations, and that suggests the median would be about 4000 downloads.

    Would be good to know the true figure though 🙂