For many of us, the app store is just another place to download our favorite apps, but what you might not know is that there are people out there who study the top apps and look for trends.  Recently Appsfire, one of my favorite app discovery tools, released an infographic about some interesting facts they discovered regarding the most downloaded apps.

The first stat I found shocking was that 18% of all Apple App Store revenue comes from games alone!  To put things into perspective, this would make games more profitable than books ($7.07%) or music ($5.57%).  That’s pretty impressive coming from a place where nearly every app looks like it could be a game with graphics close to arcade quality.

The second thing that surprised me incredibly was that only 0.2% of apps are responsible for 42.5% of all Apple App Store revenue, which means there may be some very successful apps out there that have made a lot of developers rich!  What I find surprising about this is not necessarily the ratio but the actual number of these apps… 204 to be exact.

Free Apps

Now it may seem like free apps are making the most money; however, according to Appsfire’s statistics, 50%+ of all money spent on iOS comes from paid applications, so clearly, people are still willing to pay even with so many free options available.  It seems as though the price does play a role; however, since within the top 100 free and top 100 paid apps, there are some differences in app type.  For example, within the top 100 free apps, no games show up. However, when looking at the top 100 paid apps 7 games appear in the list.

So what are people spending all of their money on?  The App Store’s Top 10 Grossing list includes 9 different apps, but only one is a game!  Here is how they rank:

Games, utilities music & video, social networking, books, news, lifestyle, photo & video, weather, navigation and this is where things get interesting… shopping, food & drink, medical reference, business, sports  and personal finance are popular choices according to

This list is very telling of the “app space” since not only does it show people what they’re spending money on, but it can give insight into what industries are valued higher.  For example, the top-grossing medical and sports apps are all directly tied back to Apple’s products or physical accessories. In contrast, the Business and Personal Finance apps could result from a growing paperless society where companies and individuals rely less on physical documentation.   The Social Networking industry is also interesting because while Facebook ranks high in gross revenue to cost ratio, Twitter ranks below other social media sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr, which is odd considering that Twitter came out before most social media platforms and had much more powerful connections within the social network scene.

Game Apps

Lastly, it is interesting that the only game to appear on these lists is “Candy Crush Saga,” which isn’t your average run-of-the-mill game… It has features, themes, and sounds that are very similar to other popular games such as Candy Crush, Bejeweled Twist, Bubble Witch Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, etc.  Taken together with another very similar app called Bubble Witch 2, this means nearly half of all top-grossing iOS revenue comes from two games with essentially nothing in common besides a few common game play elements!  It does seem like companies copy each other when making apps, but sometimes there is still room for innovation and plenty of money to be made!

Now that we know what apps are making the most money and how they rank, let’s take a look at some of the highest-grossing keywords. According to the article “The App Store’s top 5 keywords – How they rank and how much you can earn”, these keywords represent a multi-billion dollar industry which is why it is so hard for developers to break into.  This list also shows that there aren’t many apps in specific categories, especially anime, baking, camera, cooking, magazines, etc.  I suspect this has less to do with lack of demand than lack of supply since people are always looking for more apps, but the competition can be challenging when trying to get noticed!

The keywords on this list are also some of the most searched for words on Google, which makes sense since people like to find things through search engines.  While most apps will never reach the number 1 spot (i.e., they don’t make it to “Google” status), searching for similar keywords is a good way for developers to come up with awesome ideas! 

App store search trends

Now that we know what kind of apps are out there and what kind of money is made, let’s look at some more specifics about app store searches:

1) Shopping

2) Navigation

3) Travel

4) Education

5) Productivity

6) Lifestyle

 7) Utilities

8). Business

9.) Health & Fitness

10.) Reference

11.) Finance

12.) Books

13.) Social Networking

14.) Weather

15) Horoscopes

16.) Dating

17) Professional

18. News

19.) Photo & Video

20.) Music

21. Games

People look for many of the same apps, but some categories didn’t make the list that I would have expected, such as medicine, entertainment, and productivity.  I guess by now, there are enough apps in these areas to serve an average consumer’s needs… But Google Trends can be exciting because it shows how peoples’ interests change over time! People appear to be more interested in social media and travel nowadays while business was important ten years ago – this could show the evolution of technology over the years! 

It also indicates that people are more interested in local information, which makes sense considering how much easier it is now with GPS systems and mapping apps. Today we have apps for everything and that gives more options to users. Needless to say apps make handling things easier and give users the freedom to choose what they need.