After a year in which its developers earned record-high revenues from app sales, Apple reported today that it broke another sales record on New Year's Day.
Calling Sunday the "App Store's busiest day ever," Apple said customers spent $240 million in app purchases on the first day of 2017. The holiday shopping season was also Apple's busiest, with more than $3 billion in App Store sales in December, the company said.
Introduced in 2008, Apple's App Store offers more than 2.2 million free and paid applications for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and other iOS devices. Developers of iOS apps, which include everything from games to software for workplace productivity, took in a record $20 billion in earnings last year, 40 percent more than in 2015, Apple said.
Game Apps Led the Way
Apple's App Store "shatters records on New Year's Day," senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller noted this morning in a tweet announcing the company's latest sales figures. Those results suggest that "2017 is off to a great start," he said.
The most-downloaded app on both Christmas and New Year's Day was Nintendo's Super Mario Run, which became available for iOS devices on Dec. 15, according to Apple. In the first four days after its release, the game was downloaded more than 40 million times. (The Android version isn't set to come out until later this year.)
Apple's top grossing apps for the past year include Monster Strike, Fantasy Westward, Clash Royale and Pokémon Go. Other apps that led the year in downloads included Prisma, Reigns, Procreate, Lumino City, Sweat With Kayla and djay Pro.
Fast Growth, but Limits, in China
Over the past year, the number of apps available from Apple grew by more than 20 percent, with the U.S., China, Japan and the U.K. making up the top markets. China's App Store in particular saw dramatic growth in 2016, with activity expanding by 90 percent.
Despite such growth, China also placed some limits on what iOS users there can and can't download. In fact, at the request of Chinese authorities, Apple removed both the English- and Chinese-language versions of the New York Times' iOS app from China's App Store in late December, The New York Times reported yesterday..
According to the New York Times, Apple's director of corporate communications Fred Sainz said his company was informed that the app was in violation of local regulations. "As a result, the app must be taken down off the China App Store. When this situation changes, the App Store will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China," he said.
In the fall, Apple also introduced several changes to its App Store guidelines and revenue splits for developers. Under a new subscription model launched in September, developers receive an extra cut from Apple's earnings when customers subscribe to their apps for more than one year.
The top subscription apps for 2016 included Netflix, HBO Now, Line, Tinder and MLB.com at Bat. Subscription-based revenues at the App Store grew by 74 percent in 2016, reaching a total of $2.7 billion, according to Apple.