July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

iOS 18 could “lock in” $400 million in app revenue

Apple's practice of leveraging ideas from its third-party developer community into new iOS and Mac features and apps comes at a high price, a new report indicates. With the release of iOS 18 later this fall, Apple's changes may affect apps that today have an estimated revenue of $393 million and have been downloaded approximately 58 million times over the past year, according to an analysis by the firm. of application intelligence. Application Figures.

Every June at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, the iPhone maker teases upcoming releases of its software and operating systems, which often include features previously only available through third-party apps. The practice is so common now that it's even been given a name: “sherlocking,” a reference to a Mac search app from the 1990s that borrowed features from a third-party app known as Watson. Now, when Apple releases a new feature that was before the dominance of a third-party app, it is said to have “locked” the app.

In previous years, Sherlocking applications made some sense. After all, did the iPhone's flashlight really need to be a third-party offering or would it be better as a built-in feature? Additionally, Apple has been able to release features that made its software better suited to consumer wants and needs by looking at what is popular among the third-party developer community.

Of course, this practice also raises the question of whether or not Apple is leveraging proprietary data to make decisions about what to build next, and whether the apps it competes with are being given a level playing field. For example, before Apple launched its own parental control system, it closed many third party applications that had built businesses in this space saying that its solutions now did not comply with its rules and policies. Applications were not offered access to a developer API to manage Apple's built-in parental controls for years, prompting a antitrust investigation.

In more recent years, Apple has “locked in” third parties with releases of features like Continuity camera, medication tracking, sleep tracking, and mood tracking, as well as apps like Freeform and Diary. This year, directed his attention to password managers, call recording and transcription apps, apps to create custom emojis, AI-powered writing tools and math aids, tracking apps, and more.

In an analysis of third-party apps generating more than 1,000 downloads per year, Appfigures found several genres that are in Apple's sights in 2024.

In terms of global gross revenue, these categories have generated significant revenue over the past 12 months, with the trail apps category earning the most at $307 million annually, led by market leader and AllTrails Apple “App of the Year” 2023. Grammar help apps such as Grammarly and others also generated $35.7 million, while Math Assistants and Password Managers and Math Assistants earned $23.4 million and $20.3 million, respectively. Apps to create custom emojis also generated $7 million.

Image credits: Application Figures

Of those, tracking apps accounted for the vast majority of “potentially blocked” revenue, or 78%, Appfigures noted, as well as 40% of protected app downloads. In May 2024, they represented an estimated gross consumer spend of $28.8 million and 2.5 million downloads, to give you an idea of ​​scale.

Many of these app categories were growing rapidly: math solvers saw 43% year-over-year revenue growth, followed by grammar helpers (+40%), password managers (+38%), and writing apps. monitoring (+28%). Emoji-creating apps, however, saw drops of -17% year-over-year.

Image credits: Application Figures

By downloads, grammar helpers had recorded 9.4 million installs in the last 12 months, followed by emoji creators (10.6 million), math solving apps (9.5 million) and password managers (457,000 installations).

While these apps certainly have dedicated user bases that may not immediately choose to switch to a first-party offering, Apple's ability to offer similar built-in functionality could be detrimental to their potential growth. Casual users may be satisfied with Apple's “good enough” solutions and won't look for alternatives.

However, apps that continue to develop new features and add improvements beyond what Apple includes while taking advantage of other new ways to reach users, such as through Apple's improved Siri, You may have a better chance than others.

Image credits: Application Figures

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