Kids Content Rules the Educational App Category



Study by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center Finds Majority of Top-Selling Education Apps in iTunes Are Aimed at Preschoolers; Few Intended for School Use

New York and Las Vegas, January 12, 2012 – Among the chart-topping products for the iPhone and iPad in the education category in iTunes, apps for toddlers/preschoolers experienced the greatest growth (23%) in the last two years, according to an analysis conducted by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. The study iLearn II: An Analysis of the Education Category of Apple’s App Store, presented at the 2012 International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) today, examines the fast moving market and future opportunities for development. 

Using a 2009 analysis conducted by the Cooney Center as a benchmark, the new market analysis examined nearly 200 top-selling education apps for the iPad and iPhone with the goal of understanding the education app market dynamics and trends. Among the key findings:

·      Fourteen percent of the apps were tagged for intended school usage.

·      The average price of children’s apps has risen by over $1 since 2009.

·      Of the entire sample, only two iPhone apps and no iPad apps were based on well-known branded characters.

·      One hundred and nine different publishers were represented within the sample; 89 of these publishers were not represented in the sample 2 years ago.

“While television remains a critical platform for reaching children under age 8, the kids media environment is quickly going mobile,” said Dr. Michael H. Levine, Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. “This analysis shows that the market for innovative educational apps is an increasingly robust one. It is essential that developers and educators leverage them as a key ally in supporting children’s learning.” 

Based on the findings, the report offers key recommendations for further growth and development of educational apps including:

·      Manage the ‘app gap’– According to a recent Common Sense Media report, 38% of lower-income parents don’t know about apps, while 47% of higher income parents have downloaded apps for their children. Producers and educators should address this new ‘digital divide’ to help ensure all children can access these new tools for learning.

·      Create standards for products marketed as educational – No voluntary or regulatory standards currently exist around marketing products as educational. Industry leaders and policymakers should collaborate on developing a voluntary consumer education initiative to improve access to information about apps educational potential, proven impact and age appropriateness. 

Data for the new analysis was gathered from iTunes in July 2011. The full report, written by Cooney Center Senior Industry Analyst Carly Shuler, is available at The report is a publication of the Games and Learning Publishing Council which is generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The first report iLearn: A Content Analysis of the iTunes App Store’s Education Section was published by the Cooney Center in November 2009.  

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is an independent, non-profit research group that is fostering innovation in children’s learning through digital media. The center conducts and supports research, creates educational models and interactive media properties, and builds cross-sector partnerships. It is named for Sesame Workshop’s founder, who revolutionized television with the creation of Sesame Street. Core funding is provided by the generous support of Peter G. Peterson and Sesame Workshop.



Jodi Lefkowitz