Games Dominate Apple’s App Store

NEW YORK Few traditional media companies have scored major success in the Apple App Store, the increasingly popular outlet where outside programmers and developers can launch programs or tools — i.e., applications — specially designed for iPhone users.

In fact, games dominate, based on comScore’s ranking of the top 25 downloaded applications. That ranking is headlined by Tapulous’ game Tap Tap Revenge, which has been downloaded by one of every three App Store users (32 percent).

Overall, comScore found that 12 of the 25 top apps were games, while the total number of app users is growing nearly 10 percent each month.

Besides No. 1 Tap Tap, the list includes familiar titles like Pac-man (No. 5, with a hefty 24 percent penetration) and Sudoku (No. 24, 14 percent penetration), as well as iPhone originals like iBowl (No. 6, also 24 percent).

As for traditional media, the most recognizable names are companies born on the Web. Despite efforts to embrace the space, no apps from publishers like The New York Times or broadcasters like CBS appear on the list. Instead, the media players which cracked the top 25 include Facebook, News Corp.’s MySpace and Google.

Perhaps surprisingly, the open, viral nature of the store makes it easier for smaller publishers and developers to break out, despite the lack of built-in brand recognition. “It’s impressive that a game like Tapulous’ Tap Tap Revenge can attract a higher penetration among Apple app users than apps for larger and more established brands,” said Brian Jurutka, vp, comScore. “Tap Tap’s success demonstrates that there is ample opportunity in the app space for any publisher to obtain significant distribution with a product that engages users,”

Less surprising are iPhone app users’ demographics — given the price of the device and its tech cachet (Apple has reported selling over 11 million 3G iPhones through the end of 2008). ComScore noted that App Store users are 32 percent more likely than average to earn over $100,000 per year and 54 percent earn more than $75,000 per year.  

Plus, this crowd is big on Web surfing, particularly for gaming content and communications. ComScore found apps users three times more likely than the average Internet user to visit sites like IGN Entertainment, GameStop, AddictingGames and Xbox.com, among others. Similarly, they are three times as likely to log on to platforms like AOL Instant Messenger, Twitter.com and Digg.com.

Related: “I’m on the Phone, a Special Report on Mobile Apps”