Search term: ios

How much is an iOS user worth to Apple? About $150. Every year.

During the last WWDC Apple revealed that there were 54 million active Mac users. If we look at the history of the product we can see that it took about 5.5 years to sell 54 million Macs. If we assume therefore that the average lifetime of a Mac is 5.5 years and knowing that Mac sales generated revenues of about $73.8 billion then we can estimate the average revenues/year/mac user: $250.

Repeating the exercise with 180 million current iOS users who purchased about 200 million iOS devices and assuming a life span of 3.5 years gives the average revenue/year/iOS user of about $150.

These are recurring figures. If we assume these users are loyal then they will likely spend this amount indefinitely and each additional user will be worth a similar amount.

So, for example, if we assume that the number of Mac users reaches 100 million then we can also assume that they will generate about $25 billion/yr in recurring revenues.

Likewise, if we extrapolate growth of iOS to 500 million users then we can assume they will generate $74 billion/yr in recurring revenues.

Adding these together gives a potential recurring income level of $95 billion/yr for installed base alone (excluding iPods, Peripherals, iTunes apps/songs, and Software sales.) Today that figure is about $40 billion/yr. [1]

Interesting valuation exercises can follow. [2] It would also be interesting to perform a similar analysis for other vendors/platforms.


  1. Note that actual sales are considerably higher than this figure as new customers are added. These figures should be considered “baseline” sales.
  2. Thanks to a kind reader for suggesting this line of analysis.

Android developers are more prolific but less persistent than iOS developers

According to, the App Store has seen over half a million apps since inception. The number of available apps, according to Apple, is now 425k. (148apps claims 402k apps available in the US store.) The history of the App store catalog is shown in the following chart (showing both US and World-wide measures).

In an interesting new post by Appsfire, APPtrition – or why app store size does not matter that much… Ouriel Ohayon makes a good point: available is very different than accepted. When comparing catalogs it’s important to distinguish between these measures. Apps are published and then unpublished for various reasons. He calls this app attrition and details the reasons it might happen.

What makes this interesting is the contrast between attrition rates on Android’s Market and those on Apple’s App Store.

Windows generates less than a third the profit of iOS + OS X

While a lot of the credit for Apple’s success is rightfully assigned to the iOS franchises, the OS X business has more than quadrupled in five years. This has happened without drastic price fluctuations. Neither holds for the overall PC industry which has seen both volume and sales decline while prices have eroded along with profitability. On top of that, growth has nearly evaporated.

Even with this success, as a percent of total value created, the Mac accounts for a mere 13% of Apple’s profit. Including software as part of the OS X franchise implies that OS X is enabling about 20% of Apple’s profits.

iOS, on the other hand, is accounting for more than 75%. These two platforms combined amount to 96% of Apple’s profits (up from 50% four years ago).

iOS vs. Android: the tale as told by Wall Street

Yesterday I wrote about the growth in Android vs. iOS. The two platforms’ can be said to be enjoying healthy growth, though in markedly different patterns.

The consequences of this growth are being felt across the telecom and computing industries. There are almost 300 million platform devices in use today that were not even dreamed of three years ago. Operators are transporting petabytes more data and dozens of phone vendors are scrambling to meet demand. There are tens of billions of app downloads and hundreds of thousands of apps being sold by tens of thousands of new app publishers. There is a lot of hay being made while the sun shines.

But what about the poor saps that are funding the development? What about the shareholders of the companies behind these platforms. Are they being rewarded or punished?

The following charts tell the story:

iOS distribution: do operators hold the keys?

As iPad shipment volumes increase and as the iPod touch becomes the de-facto iPod, it’s time to look at the overall split between iOS devices.

I will focus the discussion between iPhone and iOS “others” because I believe the two categories differ greatly in terms of their positioning and market strategy due to the different channels.

The company does not provide iPod touch units shipment data but it can be estimated that, based on overall iOS numbers released in September, iPod touch represents approximately 50% of iPod units sold.

If we put all we know together about volumes, we have the following chart:

iOS enables 71% of Apple's profits. Platform products power 93% of gross margin

As the highly profitable iPhone makes up an increasingly larger proportion of Apple’s sales, the overall gross margin would be expected to grow.

Sure enough that’s what’s been happening.

The gross margin percent, which measures the direct or variable costs of production vs. price, shows a healthy rise in the last five years from slightly below 30% to around 40%. The Operating Margin, which also includes the overhead or fixed costs like R&D and SG&A, shows a similar rise, reaching about 30%.

Margin expansion while sales quadruple is a good indicator that a company is producing real value not just trading sales volume for profit.

65% of Apple's sales came from iOS powered devices

The iPhone and iPad generated $15 billion of revenue last quarter. In addition, iPod touch generated about $2.3 billion, implying that iOS based devices were responsible for sales of $17.3 billion.

To put that in perspective I drew this chart which shows not only the sales by products but a rough representation of share of the two OS variants Apple uses to power its products.

iOS users download about 5 apps every month

Thanks to a reader for asking this question: “Wouldn’t it be more telling to look at the monthly rate of downloads / device at any given time?”

Yes it would.

Here’s what can be derived based on download rates and installed base of devices.

More than 60 apps have been downloaded for every iOS device sold

The iTunes App Store is about to reach 10 billion downloads. That makes this a good time to revisit app growth metrics and compare them with the other digital media store that we have data for: the iTunes Music Store.

First, the download totals as time series[1]:

Is Android more efficient than iOS at generating search revenue?

Thanks to David Chu for forwarding the data that made this possible and reader Narajanan for spotting the divergence in platform efficiency.

iOS and Android are both growing rapidly. According to Gartner, during the first three quarters of 2010, about 44 million iOS devices and 36 million Android devices were put into use. That’s 80 million devices. An amazing achievement for two platforms that did not exist 3 years earlier.

But obviously not all devices are used the same way. Devices which have unused capabilities limit network effects for a platform and for the category of product in general. Question is: how can we measure the “smartness” of a device; how much more likely is a device to be used as a mobile computer vs. being a regular phone?

The best proxy I can think of is a measurement of browsing use.