ASYMCO: What's an Active User worth?

InsightaaS: Horace Dediu’s ASYMCO is a fascinating source of insight into issues pertaining to Apple, and to the smartphone and related markets generally. In this post, ASYMCO takes an intriguing look at Apple, asking the question “what is the value of an ecosystem user?” With characteristic rigour, ASYMCO finds that the current answer for Apple is “about $48 per user.” Fascinatingly (in light of the recent IPO) ASYMCO notes that Twitter “generates about $1.36 of revenue per year [per ecosystem user] or one thirty-fifth of what an iOS user generates through iTunes and iCloud alone.”

Apple has sold 700 million iOS devices. Google claims one billion Android device activations. Microsoft has about 1.5 billion Windows users and Facebook about 1.19 billion. LinkedIn has 259 million users and Twitter has 232 million. Amazon has 215 active account holders and PayPal 137 million.

Markets place a value on these users implicitly when company shares are priced. For example, Twitter whose users are worth about $110 or FaceBook’s $98 and LinkedIn at $93.

This consistency suggests a universally accepted value per social media user but what is the value of an ecosystem user? Apple, Google, Microsoft and even Amazon aspire to enable ecosystems which should be seen are more valuable than mere communities. Ecosystems enable a higher level of economic activity because they are unbounded by the medium itself. Any number of media can be created. Or so the theory goes.

If we could determine a value for an ecosystem user we could test it against the going value of a social media user. Fortunately we have enough data to do so…

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