Apple’s App Store Posts Huge New Year’s Day Sales; Pulls NY Times App in China

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In a press release Thursday morning, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) said that New Year’s Day 2017 marked the company’s highest-ever day of sales with nearly $240 million in app and in-app purchases. Also on Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Apple had removed the New York Times app from the company’s Chinese App Store.

The world’s most valuable company apparently ran afoul of some unspecified “local regulations.” In a statement the company said “the app must be taken down” and that when “this situation changes,” the app will return to the Chinese App Store.

Top-grossing New Year’s Day apps included Monster Strike, Fantasy Westward, Clash Royale and Pokémon Go. The top download globally was Super Mario Run on both New Year’s Day and Christmas Day. Pokémon Go was the top download for 2016.

Apple said that app developers earned more than $20 billion in 2016 and that since the App Store launched in 2008 developers have earned over $60 billion. The App Store stocks about 2.2 million apps, an increase of 20% year over year the company said.

Consumers spent $3 billion in the month of December alone, and Super Mario Run was downloaded 40 million times in the first four days after its release. iPhone and iPad users raised the App Store’s subscription billings by 74% year over year in 2016, to a total of $2.7 billion.

Apple noted that the App Store is available in 155 countries and that the top-grossing countries were the United States, China, Japan and the United Kingdom. In China, App Store sales rose 90% in 2016. China accounted for nearly 20% of Apple’s total revenue in the last fiscal quarter. That helps explain why Apple was so quick to remove the NYT app from its Chinese website.

A New York Times spokeswoman was critical of the decision:

The request by the Chinese authorities to remove our apps is part of their wider attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage by The New York Times of that country, coverage which is no different from the journalism we do about every other country in the world.

In a story about the removal of its app from the Chinese App Store, the New York Times said that Apple removed the app on December 23 following a conversation between a Times reporter and Apple’s media team about an article on Foxconn, Apple’s iPhone supplier. Later that same day, Apple told the New York Times the app would be removed.