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It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when the iPhone existed without an App Store. That store is now such a huge part of the iPhone experience, not to mention a growing part of Apple’s business. How much does the App Store mean to Apple, exactly? The company announced today that it did over $10 billion in App Store sales for 2013 — easily the best year yet for Apple’s app marketplace.

app storeOn top of that, Apple stated that users downloaded over 3 billion apps in December alone. That was the best month for downloads in the App Store’s history. Obviously, the holiday season and its gift-giving nature deserve some credit for that, but for a store that didn’t even exist seven years ago, those are some big, impressive numbers.

All in all, developers have earned over $15 billion from the App Store. And Apple, of course, made a fair chunk of money itself. It’s really money that Apple conjured up out of thin air, if you think about it; Apple was content with pushing Web-based apps inside Safari until jailbroken apps for the iPhone forced its hand. Now the company’s App Store plays host to over 1 million iPhone apps and over half a million iPad apps, and for each sale, Apple takes a 30 percent cut.

Apple’s iOS devices still have some room to grow in terms of market share, so the potential is there for these numbers to go higher. And if Apple gets into the wearables game as is expected, the company will have yet another device it can sell software for. We’ll have to wait and see what happens for Apple and the App Store in 2014, but if past years are any indication, it could be another one for the record books.

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