I always wondered where to find some nice Mac App Store statistics. It is easy to track my own apps but there is not much data out there on the overall numbers of Mac App Store apps and on how good apps of specific categories run in terms of sales. I’ve therefore begun to collect some data from the store which are quite interesting. I’ve prepared two diagrams highlighting the information I wanted to share with you.

The first diagram shows how the overall top 180 paid apps on the Mac App Store distribute between the 21 app categories available. I’ve chosen the overall top 180 paid apps list and not the top grossing list as the top 180 paid apps list should be relatively independent from the price of the apps:

MAS Top Paid Distribution

Mac App Store paid apps top 180 by categories

The three most populated categories (games, productivity and utilities) make up more than the half of all top paid apps. The first five categories make up more than two thirds of all top paid apps. At the same time we have four categories (business, medical, sports, travel) not represented in the top 180 at all.

Now, what follows from this numbers? First, it won’t be a big suprise that the Mac App Store is not a corporate app store. Finance and business categories are no hits, apparently, together making up only 1.7 % of the top 180 list. Mac users are also not really committed to a healthy life style (health & fitness, medical, sports, together only 3.3 %) and like to stay at home (travel, 0 %). But they like to play around (games, 27 %), think they need productivity tools and utilities (together 30.6 %) and like to work with media (photography, video, graphics & design, music, together 20 %). Of couse this analysis is not really bullet-proof.

However, the reason that some categories are not represented in the top 180 list could merely be a consequence of there being no (good or paid) apps in these categories. Could it be that the average Mac user desperately wants to buy sports apps but doesn’t find them on the Mac App Store or that he only uses free apps?

To get to some bottom of statistical magic I prepared another diagram showing the categories developers have tagged their (paid and free) apps with. As every app on the Mac App Store can have up to two categories associated with it, the overall number of apps on the Mac App Store may roughly be estimated to be half of the sum of all category tags shown below. This is true only if all or at least most developers actually use two categories for each app and not only one, but I think that most of them will do so, if only for marketing reasons. We have 13,383 category tags in the diagram below, meaning that at the moment there are around 6,691 apps on the Mac App Store.

MAS Categories Distribution

Mac App Store number of (paid and free) apps tagged with given categories

If we can further assume that the ratio between paid and free apps is roughly the same in all categories (I didn’t check that, will keep that for another blog post) and if we also assume that the average quality of paid apps is roughly the same in all categories (I also didn’t check that), we may calculate a comparable ratio between the number of apps in each category and the number of apps of that category present in the top 180 paid app lists.

On the top of this calculated list (no diagram shown) resides, quite suprisingly, the weather category (45 apps tagged with weather category and 5 apps present in the top 180 list). So, fellow developers, if you want to land your next chartbreaker app it better be a weather app. The second-best category is news with 60 tagged apps and 3 apps in the top 180 list. Third place goes to the social networking category (170 tagged apps, 6 present in top 180 list). It may be a conclusion too much but these three categories are likely to represent a kind of Mac App Store low-competition niches not yet grazed by the herd animals of software developers.

All data was fetched on August 24, 2011, around 16:00 GMT from the US Mac App Store. I will repeat this exercise in a couple of weeks to see if anything changes over time. In the meantime, I will design my new weather news social networking app.