Apple and Google crowd out competition with default apps

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If you’re using an iPhone or Android phone, chances are the majority of your most used apps were made by Apple and Google.

This is emerging from a new Comscore study that ranks the popularity of preinstalled iOS and Android apps, such as Apple’s Messages, alongside apps created by other developers. The results show that the majority of the apps people use on their phones in the US are preinstalled by Apple or Google. The first such report was commissioned by Facebook, one of Apple’s most vocal critics, and shared exclusively with The edge.

Preinstalled services dominate when it comes to basics like weather, photos and clocks, according to the report, suggesting these categories will be hard to compete with for other apps. However, the defaults don’t exclusively trump: Apple Maps and Music don’t appear on the iOS list at all, and Gmail makes the iOS list several entries below Apple Mail.

The timing, as Facebook probably intended, is appropriate: Apple and Google are increasingly being watched for how they favor their own services over competitors like Spotify. U.S. lawmakers are currently considering a new set of bills to curb the power of Big Techs, including legislation that could potentially prevent Apple and Google from giving their services the upper hand over their rivals.

The setback stems from the way Apple and Google bundle their apps and services with their mobile operating systems in a way some of their competitors deem unfair. The criticism is harsher against Apple, given that it more tightly controls the apps preinstalled on the iPhone and doesn’t allow developers to bypass its App Store.

At the same time, it has been unclear how popular these preinstalled apps are compared to apps created by third-party developers, as Apple and Google don’t disclose user numbers for their apps by default. Research companies regularly track the popularity of apps available for download in app stores, but Comscore’s study is the first real attempt at mapping the competition between default mobile apps and other developers.

You can view the full interactive version here.

To write the report last December, Comscore used data it regularly collects from apps and websites, along with a survey of around 4,000 people asking which default apps it has. they used during the month of November. The results show that 75% of the top 20 apps for iOS in the US were made by Apple, while Google created 60% of the best apps for Android. The top four apps on both platforms were created by their respective parent companies.

Facebook is the only external developer with more than one app on the iOS list and the only developer with three apps on the list for Android. Randomly, 78 million people used Apple’s Calculator app, more than Gmail users on Android.

Facebook paid for the Comscore study to show “the impact of preinstalled applications on the competitive application ecosystem,” according to company spokesperson Joe Osborne. Social network executives have long criticized Apple’s limitations on third-party developers for hampering their ability to distribute mobile games and effectively compete with iMessage.

Apple rejected the report’s findings. “This Facebook-funded December 2020 survey was narrowly designed to give the false impression that there is little competition in the App Store,” said an Apple spokesperson. The edge. “The truth is, third-party apps compete with Apple apps in all categories and are very successful. ”

The spokesperson said the survey methodology was “seriously flawed in several respects” and the results contradicted Comscore’s recent publication. April 2021 ranking on the use of the application. But these rankings did not attempt to take into account the use of all preinstalled applications as did the study commissioned by Facebook.

Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Besides Comscore showing the usage of apps in the US for a particular period of time, there are a few other quirks in its methodology to note: it didn’t include browsers like Apple’s Safari or Google’s Chrome in them. rankings or what he calls “integrated operation of system features” like Siri. And results for Android weren’t collected by specific phone makers, meaning app usage isn’t broken down for Samsung phones compared to the Google Pixel, for example.

Still, the report highlights the power of platform owners over the apps used on their devices. It’s not just the app stores that serve as gatekeepers, but the phones themselves.


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