It’s hard to fathom that Apple opened its App Store less than two years ago and already it offers more than 140,000 apps, consumers have downloaded around 3 billion apps, and it generates an estimated $1 billion a year. All that should only grow with the much-anticipated release of the iPad. Meanwhile, Apple’s acquisition of music-streaming company Lala and its interest in streaming TV shows suggest the seeds of new revenue in a revamped iTunes. Revenue-wise, it was another fruitful year for Apple–$36.5 billion, a 12% increase from 2008.
Here’s how Apple is competing on multiple fronts with Amazon and Google:
2009 revenue: $24.1 billion (est.), up 26%
2009 stock price: Up 176%
Acquisitions since 1/09: 3, notably Zappos ($1 billion)
Influence: Even minor features inspire awe.
2009 revenue: $36.5 billion, up 12%
2009 stock price: Up 146% Acquisitions since 1/09: 2, notably Lala ($80 million)
Influence: Even its rumored moves win kudos.
2009 revenue: $23.6 billion, up 8%
2009 stock price: Up 106%
Acquisitions since 1/09: 6, notably AdMob ($750 million)
Influence: Even its beta invites are coveted.
Amazon–Added video streaming to its cloud-computing service. Expanded video on demand in the online store, offering customers streaming access after buying select movies on Blu-ray or DVD.
Apple–Added video recording to iPhone 3GS and the next-generation Nano. More rumors: Will there be an iTunes subscription service to stream TV shows, as an alternative to cable packages?
Amazon–Kindle 2 and DX sparked a boom in digital e-readers. The Kindle became Amazon’s top-selling item across all product categories. It sold an estimated 2 million units, representing about 60% of the e-reader market.
Google–Debuted the “gPhone,” aka the Nexus One, in January to mostly favorable reviews but with tepid sales and customer-service complaints. Now competing against Android handset and carrier partners. Hardly seems worth it. Yet.
Amazon–Extended its PayPal rival to mobile phones, enabling Web retailers to offer one-click purchases. Its iPhone app, which lets shoppers compare prices and buy on the fly, is an m-commerce standout.
Apple–The App Store has more than 140,000 apps and 3 billion downloads. Revenue? An estimated $1 billion. Expect more growth with the iPhone’s China launch. Apple’s acquisition of mobile-ad company Quattro Wireless pits it against Google.
Amazon–Amazon MP3 store is now preinstalled on devices such as Motorola’s Droid and Palm’s Pixi. Deals with Google Music Search and Vevo (Hulu for music videos) extend its store’s reach.
Google–Launched Music Search, working with Lala–before Apple bought it–to stream songs in search results and with Amazon to sell them. Out of every 10 Google searches, 2 are music related.
Apple–The iPhone is a stealth e-reader: Last September, e-books surpassed games in the App Store for the first time. E-book downloads, mostly free (Robert Louis Stevenson is back!), are expected to double this year. The new iPad is a color e-reader with backlighting and its own bookstore.
Google–Dreams of the world’s biggest digital library are fraying at the edges. Anti-trust, anyone? Amazon and others oppose its settlement with publishers and authors. And–mon dieu!–the French ponder the legality of book scanning, even though more than 10 million books are digitized. Coming soon: Google Editions, its own e-book store.
Apple–The Lala acquisition last fall fueled rumors of an iTunes overhaul that would put music in the cloud. Users could stream their entire collection and find new songs anywhere via the Web.
Google–New collaboration tool Wave aspires to nothing less than replacing email with a marriage of social networking, writing, and photo sharing. Chrome browser surpassed Apple’s Safari in market share. ChromeOS is on its way for netbooks later this year.