paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

5. Apple

Diversified, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #3

Digital Content Revenue

$5,400,000,000 (4% of total)

Digital Snapshot

Spoti-who? Apple still owns the overwhelming majority of sales in a music market that has itself become mostly digital. Though the company lost its talisman this year, the iTunes Store is the gift that keeps on giving to troubled content makers, having diversified in to apps, books, newspapers, periodicals and, less successfully, TV shows and movies. It has provided proof, on the whole, that consumers will pay for digital content, though debate on that question continues to rage.

Key Move

Apple made it possible to process more transactions in more places. Introducing in-app subscriptions proved controversial for the 30 percent it takes but has helped content owners build regular, recurring sales. ItĀ attributed a 33 percent rise in content sales mostly to expansion to new territories like Latin America pushing up App Store sales.

Our Methodology

Apple disclosed combined iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore sales on page 31 of its annual 10K SEC return for the year ending September 24, 2011, That was prior to its introduction of Newsstand.
Source: SEC 10k: 2011 Annual Return

— RA