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iOS App Store went on record-setting tear in 2012

iPhone, iPad users download 2B apps in December alone, grab nearly 20B -- half of 40B cumulative total -- in 2012

Apple claims its iOS App Store has passed the 40-billion-download mark, and posted a record two billion downloads last month alone.

Apple's December number bolsters the notion that across-the-board app downloads easily broke records last month. Last week, app analytics company Flurry said iOS and Android smartphone and tablet users downloaded 1.76 billion apps in the week of Dec. 25-31, and more than five billion for the month overall.

Android device owners greatly outnumber those with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, but historically spend less on average for apps. A September 2012 estimate said the iOS App Store would account for 65% of worldwide app revenue for the year.

"It has been an incredible year for the iOS developer community," said Eddy Cue, the Apple executive responsible for the App Store, in a Monday statement. Cue cited several statistics, ranging from the 40-billion-download milestone to a total payout of $7 billion to developers since the App Store's debut in July 2008. Because Apple retains 30% of all revenue, leaving 70% for developers, Apple's share since 2008 was around $3 billion out of a total of $10 billion.

During 2012, the App Store distributed nearly 20 billion apps, or approximately half of the total over the last four-and-a-half years, said Cue. If revenue roughly matched downloads, the iOS App Store took in just under $5 billion in 2012, earning Apple $1.5 billion.

The $5 billion estimate was consistent with earlier projections, including one from IHS iSuppli last September that pegged 2012 App Store revenues at $4.9 billion, up 69% from $2.9 billion in 2011.

iSuppli also estimated total cumulative App Store revenue through 2012 at approximately $10 billion, in line with Apple's claims.

The App Store currently sports more than 775,000 apps, with about 39% of those native iPad apps, claimed Cue.

Last week, research firm ABI rated the three primary mobile app stores -- Apple's, Google's and Microsoft's -- and put the iOS App Store at the top with a score of nearly 81 out of 100. Google Play and the Microsoft Phone Store came in at 72 and 64, respectively.

The last time Apple flaunted App Store downloads was in March 2012, when the company said more than 25 billion apps had been downloaded since the e-mart's opening, and awarded a Chinese customer a $10,000 iTunes gift card for grabbing the 25 billionth app.

IHS iSuppli's Sept. 2012 estimate for iOS App Store revenues was spot on according to numbers Apple cited today. (Image: IHS iSuppli.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is

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