In a report published by Sensor Tower on May 10, researchers discovered that the top one percent of U.S. App Store publishers with paid or in-app purchase-supported apps accounted for 94 percent of all revenue generated by the store.
This data came from revenue and download estimates that were analyzed between Jan. 1 and March 31 (Q1). Researchers compared the estimated net revenue of publishers in the U.S. App Store with at least one actively ranking paid or IAP-supported app.
The remaining 99 percent of publishers in the App Store accounted for six percent of the U.S. App Store revenue. This indicates that about $1.3 billion of the estimated $1.4 billion in net revenue generated by the store in Q1 went to just 623 publishers.
Some of the top-earning publishers within the elite one percent include Supercell, Spotify, Netflix and HBO. The researchers note that shopping and services apps like Uber and Amazon were not a part of the report because they do not generate revenue via paid apps or IAPs.
The top one percent of publishers also accounted for the majority of downloads in the first quarter of 2016 — they made up 70 percent of all app downloads. In total, there were about 1.3 billion app downloads in the U.S. App Store in the first quarter, and discoverability continues to play a big role.
Discoverability is essentially how easy it is to hunt down a publisher's app in a crowded place, like the U.S. App Store. In the first quarter, Google had the most apps downloaded onto iPhones (30-plus million) and iPads (40-plus million). It was followed by Facebook, Ketchapp (a France-based mobile game publisher) and Fortafy Games.
"The issues faced by companies hoping to get their apps discovered by Apple's mobile audience are well documented and widely known, and continue to fuel rumors that a major overhaul of the store, focused on improving discoverability, is in the works," wrote Randy Nelson, Sensor Tower's head of mobile insights, on the company's blog.
In a survey conducted in 2015, about 19 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 years old said they were still primarily becoming aware of smartphone apps through word of mouth recommendations.