At least as measured in terms of number of unique applications, Books have grown the fastest over the last 12 weeks. (Data for this post limited to apps on the U.S. iTunes store through 3/1/2009.)
Granted releasing an e-book for the iPhone is a lot easier than writing a gaming application using the iPhone SDK. Roughly 6 out 10 of the Books on the app store sell for 99 cents or less, and 1 in 20 are free:
The number of premium priced Books (i.e. those priced at $10 or more) has grown from roughly 1 in 50 Books 12 weeks ago, to 1 in 10 during the most recent week. When I talk to iPhone developers, I get the impression they’re actively conducting pricing experiments. No surprise that publishers are also conducting their own test-and-learn pricing studies.
While the iPhone is attracting e-book readers, gaming apps continue to be the most popular. Games remain the dominant category both in terms of number of apps (24% of all apps), and in terms of sales. During a typical week, two-thirds of all apps on the TOP PAID APPS list are Games, while a lone Book spends time on the list. Also note that competition is much fiercer these days: compared to Aug/Sep 2008, fewer apps are able to crack the TOP PAID APPS list during a calendar week.
The total number of unique apps continues to grow steadily with close to 18,000 apps appearing in the U.S. app store last week (about 30% of which were free). Since the launch of the U.S. app store, close to 25,000 have appeared on iTunes:
The recession has been accompanied by a decline in the price of top-sellers in the U.S. app store. The mean price of an app on the TOP PAID APPS list has trended downward, but has stabilized to about $2.55 over the last month. The corresponding mean price in August 2008, the month prior to the onset of the banking crisis, was about $4.13.
While the MEAN is sensitive to a few expensive top-selling apps, the MEDIAN price of the TOP PAID APPS has also declined. From a value of $2.92 in August 2008, the MEDIAN price of such apps has settled to about $1.99 over the last 11 weeks.