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If you have an iPhone or an Android phone, the majority of your most-used apps were probably created by Apple or Google.

That’s the conclusion of a new Comscore study that compares the popularity of preinstalled iOS and Android apps like Apple’s Messages to apps developed by other companies. The findings demonstrate that in the United States, the majority of apps users use on their phones are preinstalled by either Apple or Google. Facebook, one of Apple’s harshest critics, commissioned the first-of-its-kind report, which was shared exclusively with The Verge.

According to the survey, preinstalled services dominate in categories including weather, photographs, and clocks, implying that these areas would continue to grow.

Defaults, on the other hand, do not always win out: Apple Maps and Music aren’t on the iOS list at all, while Gmail is several entries below Apple Mail on the iOS list.

The time is opportune, as Facebook most certainly intended: Apple and Google are coming under fire for favoring their own services over those of competitors like Spotify. US senators are presently debating a fresh series of laws aimed at limiting Big Tech’s power, including legislation that might prevent Apple and Google from giving their services an advantage over competitors.

The opposition originates from Apple and Google’s decision to package their apps and services with their mobile operating systems in a way that some competitors believe is unfair. Apple receives tougher criticism since it has tighter control over the apps that come preinstalled on the iPhone and does not allow developers to bypass its App Store.

At the same time, because Apple and Google don’t release user counts for their default apps, it’s been impossible to determine how popular these preinstalled programs are in comparison to apps created by third-party developers.

Comscore’s study is the first real attempt at charting how default mobile apps compete against other developers. Research firms regularly track the popularity of apps available for download in app stores, but Comscore’s study is the first real attempt at charting how default mobile apps compete against other developers.

Comscore used data from applications and websites that it collects on a regular basis, as well as a poll of nearly 4,000 people who were asked about their default apps during the month of November, to create the study last December. According to the findings, Apple created 75% of the top 20 iOS apps in the US, while Google created 60% of the top Android apps. Both platforms’ top four apps were created by their respective parent companies.

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

According to corporate spokesman Joe Osborne, Facebook sponsored the Comscore study to highlight the “effect of preloaded apps on the competitive app market.” Apple’s restrictions on third-party developers have long been criticized by Facebook executives as impeding their ability to distribute mobile games and compete successfully with iMessage.

The results of the research were disputed by Apple. An Apple spokeswoman told The Verge, “This Facebook-funded study from December 2020 was tightly targeted to provide the false impression that there is minimal competition on the App Store.” β€œIn reality, third-party apps compete with Apple’s apps in every category and have a huge following.”

The survey’s methodology was “extremely faulty in a number of ways,” according to the spokesman, and the results contradicted Comscore’s recent April 2021 app usage rankings. However, unlike the Facebook-commissioned study, those rankings did not attempt to account for the use of all preinstalled apps.

Apart from Comscore’s methodology not including browsers like Apple’s Safari or Google’s Chrome in the rankings, or what it refers to as “embedded operating system functions” like Siri, there are a few other peculiarities in its methodology to note. Furthermore, figures for Android were not obtained by specific phone manufacturers, thus app usage for Samsung phones versus the Google Pixel, for example, is not broken out.

Nonetheless, the research emphasizes platform owners’ control over which apps are installed on their devices. Not only the app shops but also the phones themselves, act as gatekeepers.


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