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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has announced with no little fanfare that it already has had more than 1 billion downloads from the iPhone/iPod App Store. You’d think the company would be raking in big bucks. But maybe not.

Jeremy Liew, of Lightspeed Venture Partners, wrote a blog post yesterday asserting that Apple’s revenues for those 1 billion downloads are no more than $20 million to $45 million, barely moving the topline needle.

Here’s how he got to the number:

  • Start with a billion downloads.
  • He says estimates are that free downloads outnumber paid downloads by anywhere from 15:1 to 40:1. That suggests 25 million to 60 million paid apps.
  • A recent O’Reilly survey, he notes, found the mean price of paid apps at $2.65. Liew asserts that the weighted average is probably lower than that; but he uses $2.65 anyway.
  • At 25 million paid, that’s gross revenue of $66 million. At 60 million, $160 million.
  • Apple’s take of the gross is 30%. Ergo, $20 million to $48 million.
  • If you assume the weighted average is $1.50, the take drops to $12 million to $27 million, he writes.

I would add that, given the Street sees revenue for the September 2009 fiscal year of just over $35 billion, that’s a revenue boost of roughly 0.1%.

I point out Liew’s post not to imply that the App Store is somehow unimportant. It is significantly changing the way way people think about mobile devices, and has triggered a response from Research In Motion (RIMM), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Palm (PALM). But what it clearly is not doing is generating a lot of revenue.

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