Apple boasted today that it had distributed more than 100 million programs through the Mac App Store since the e-market's January launch.
"With more than 100 million downloads in less than a year, the Mac App Store is the largest and fastest growing PC software store in the world," said Philip Schiller, Apple's head of marketing, in a statement Monday.
Apple debuted the Mac App Store Jan. 6, 2011, and at the time limited the storefront to users running Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard. People running Snow Leopard's follow-up, Lion, have been able to access the app store since that upgrade's July 2011 release.
Several millions of the 100 million downloads from the Mac App Store were, in fact, Lion, which Apple distributed exclusively through the online market. Apple said in October that it had sold six million copies of Lion through the quarter that ended Sept. 30.
The timing of Apple's download volume announcement may not have been a coincidence: Last week, rival Microsoft said that it would open its software app store, dubbed the Windows Store, in late February alongside the release of Windows 8's first beta.
For all the downloads, Apple's slice of the revenue pie amounted to just $34 million per quarter, or about $132 million for 2011, estimated Brian Marshall, an analyst with International Strategy and Investment Group (ISI).
Total revenue for the Mac App Store was $113 million per quarter, or $452 million for the year, said Marshall in a short note to clients.
Apple takes 30% of all revenues generated by the Mac App Store, while developers receive the remaining 70%.
Marshall compared the Mac App Store's revenues with that produced by the more popular App Store that caters to iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, and not surprisingly, found the former wanting.
He estimated iOS App Store revenues at $619 million per quarter, or $2.5 billion annually, with Apple's share at $186 million per quarter, or $744 million per year.
"We view Apple's Mac App Store and App Store primarily as improving the user experience and creating greater loyalty -- in other words, recurring device revenue -- rather than a meaningful revenue or earnings driver," said Marshall.
Nor is the Mac App Store as widely used as the iOS App Store: Assuming an installed base of 60 million Macs and 250 million iOS devices, each Mac accounted for about two downloads, or 35 times less than the 70 downloads Apple has racked up per iOS device since the App Store's 2008 launch.
Unlike the iPhone's market, the Mac App Store is not the sole software distribution channel for Mac laptops and desktops. Developers can still pitch their Mac OS X wares via their own websites, through online sellers like Amazon.com or at brick-and-mortar stores.
But the Mac App Store beats the iPhone e-mart on average app price, said Marshall, who tagged the former's paid app ASP (average sales price) at $15 and the latter's at only $1.25.
Schiller also said that the iOS App Store download count had reached 18 billion, and was now distributing approximately 1 billion apps per month.
Apple's currently touting its picks for the year's best apps on the Mac App Store.
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 e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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