As the Epic court case goes on, we have been learning more details about internal discussions within Apple business. With the testimony of Trystan Kosmynka, one of the heads of the App Store, on Friday, we have been able to discover more about the App Store numbers and we can say that the iPhone App Store is Apple’s only big hit, here’s why.

Without entering into the subject of this court case, it’s fascinating to learn more about Apple App Stores numbers. While over 500 people review 100,000 apps per week, we have learned that the majority of the apps reviewed are iPhone apps.

Analyzing numbers from the week of November 16 of 2019, there’s a big discrepancy in iOS numbers over tvOS and macOS numbers:

  • 58,875 iPhone apps were submitted, 15,069 were new apps
  • 681 Mac apps were submitted, 152 were new apps
  • 142 Apple TV apps were submitted, 27 were new apps

Only 73 new apps for watchOS were submitted this week, for example, which shows that apart from the iPhone and iPad App Store, there’s not much to find on other Apple stores.

According to these numbers Apple shared in this case, in 2019, there were 10,009 tvOS apps available and 27,240 macOS apps available in its stores, while more than one million apps were available on the iPhone/iPad App Store.

These numbers mean at least two things: the iPhone is Apple’s biggest hit and developers are not willing to create apps for tvOS and watchOS.

What happened to tvOS and watchOS App Stores?

When Apple launched the fourth-generation Apple TV and its App Store, it was a chance for the company to promote the Apple TV as a console device-like. The problem was some limitations the company imposed for developers. Here’s what Apple demanded from developers in 2015:

Requirements for Games That Support Game Controllers

Apple has created specific requirements you must follow for any game that supports game controllers. These requirements are designed to make sure that games are always playable.

Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controller.

tvOS games that support controllers must support the extended control layout. All controllers for tvOS are nonformfitting extended controllers.

Games must be playable using standalone controllers. If you support an extended controller, the game must be playable solely with that controller.

You must support the pause button. All controllers include a pause button. When gameplay is active, pressing the pause button should pause gameplay. When the game is not being played, such as when you are at a menu screen, the pause button moves to a previous screen of content.

This changed a year later, but since the Apple TV was never a hit, the developers probably just didn’t think it was worth the effort creating an entire app for Apple’s set-top-box.

In Apple Watch’s case, developers usually say the WatchKit SDK is limited and many native Apple Watch apps use private APIs that other apps can’t access to offer the same experience. Over the years, Apple improved the experience to develop for watchOS but many developers who bet on the platform in the early days, never develop for the Watch again.

In 2018, for example, Instagram was one of the many apps that were pulled out from the Apple Watch App Store as Apple required native apps in updates:

“Instagram’s Apple Watch app was one of the original social network apps to debut in the early days of watchOS (..) but the app hasn’t been updated in years to take advantage of current features. For example, the app did not work on Wi-Fi or LTE despite Apple Watch gaining the ability to load apps without iPhone nearby, and Instagram never added any messaging features despite owner Facebook offering support for Messenger on Apple Watch.

Instead, Instagram is joining the expanding graveyard of abandoned Apple Watch apps which already includes SlackWhole FoodseBay, Amazon, and Google Maps. Smart thermostat maker ecobee also recently pulled its Apple Watch app but teased out the return of a new version in a future update.

As of 2021, Spotify is one of the few apps that are back to the Watch App Store, but it’s still less efficient than the Apple Music Watch app.

Wrap-up

Epic vs Apple case will follow for another two weeks, as we expect to learn more about Apple’s structure. It’s also interesting to see the company’s effort in the past three years to make developers continue to create apps through all its Apple Stores.

It was also in 2019, at WWDC, the company introduced the Catalyst project to help developers make their iOS apps compatible with the Mac. Since then, it Apple released more Apple Watch APIs for developers as well the ability to create its own custom – although still limited – Watch Faces.

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