Apple wrings a cool $1B from holiday app frenzy

On New Year's Day alone, Apple customers hit a new daily high in spending on apps, surpassing a mark set just a week earlier.

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Apple's App Store sales made for a happy holiday.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Apple device owners helped the company set several records in App Store sales during the holidays.

On Wednesday, the iPhone maker reported that customers shelled out more than $1.1 billion on apps and in-app purchases over the two weeks that ended January 3, setting records for both purchases and traffic at the App Store. January 1 was the most profitable single day in App Store history, with people spending more than $144 million on purchases, beating the record set just a week earlier on Christmas Day.

For the year, App Store sales generated more than $20 billion. Apple gets a 30 percent cut of every dollar spent at its online app store, which translates to a haul of about $6 billion.

Google's Android is the dominant mobile platform in device sales, market share and even app downloads. Apple, though, has traditionally generated higher sales for apps. Users of Apple's iPads, iPods and iPhones typically spend more money on apps and games, and developers still gravitate toward Apple, where they earn more on app sales than at Google Play.

Those developers churning out apps for Apple devices have raked in almost $40 billion in sales since 2008, according to the company, with more than a third of that over the past year alone.

Among the year's most popular App Store categories were gaming, social networking and entertainment, Apple said, pointing to such apps as Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Trivia Crack, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Snapchat. Games and subscription apps, such as Clash of Clans, Monster Strike, Netflix and Hulu, were among the top-grossing titles in 2015.

In the past, Apple has relied on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to scoop up software at the App Store. But in 2015, the company introduced the Apple Watch and unveiled a new Apple TV, both of which are now part of the app ecosystem. Apple cited Rayman Adventures, Beat Sports and HBO Now as popular apps for the Apple TV with Nike+ Running, Lifesum, iTranslate and Citymapper as top apps for owners of its smartwatch.

Apple also patted itself on the back for reportedly creating more than 1.4 million jobs in the US in its community of app developers, software engineers and other people who build iOS apps. Citing a research study from the Progressive Policy Institute, Apple said that number also includes non-IT jobs "supported directly and indirectly through the app economy."

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