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App revenue intrigue

App Revenue Distribution

This week, Canalys estimated that just 25 developers made half of all app revenue on iPhone and Google (GOOG) Play apps in the United States during the first 20 days of November. Canalys seems to have excluded iPad app revenue for some reason. The 25 developers were estimated to have grossed $60 million in 20 days, translating to a roughly $90 million monthly run rate in November. The entire app market thus generated $180 million in November.

Apple (AAPL) is usually estimated to create roughly four times as much app revenue as Google Play in the U.S. market. With only iPhone apps included in the Canalys estimate of $180 million in November, the split is perhaps something like $130 million for iPhone apps and $50 million for Google Play apps.

What I find interesting here is that a Finnish app developer called Supercell announced in October it is making about $15 million a month globally from its two iPhone/iPad titles, “Clash of Clans” and “Hay Day.” That gross may have grown to $20 million by November. These games are currently the top two grossing titles on the U.S. iPhone chart. The iPhone/iPad revenue split of Supercell is widely assumed to be about 50/50, although the company has not provided an official figure.

If we use the 50/50 assumption, then Supercell grossed about $10 million globally in November with its two apps on the iPhone platform. Supercell’s global success is pretty evenly split between North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Pegging the U.S. app market as 40% of the global market would translate to roughly $4 million from the American iPhone app market.

I must say I am surprised that the American iPhone app market is not more top heavy. Canalys estimates that 25 developers hog half of all app revenue in America, a market of more than a million available apps. Yet the company with number one and number four iPhone apps in America may have grabbed only roughly 3% of the U.S. iPhone app revenue following the Canalys and Supercell revenue estimates.

To provide a comparison, at the U.S. movie box office, the November take was $1.08 Billion according to Box Office Mojo. The top title, Breaking Dawn 2, grabbed 23% of that even though it was in theaters for just 15 days.

The U.S. app market may be winner-take-all in a sense that 25 companies hog half the sales. But it seems that it may be notably generous in how the sales are divided between these top players.

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