Facebook-funded research claims Apple's own apps crowd out those from third parties

App Store on iPhone
App Store on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • New research suggests that the apps Apple ships on its iPhones are crowding out those from other developers.
  • The research was funded by Facebook.

We've seen a ton of talk of late about Apple's pre-installed apps. Apps like Safari and Mail that come installed on all new iPhones are causing a stir because some believe it gives them an unfair advantage over apps created by third-party developers. Now, it appears a Facebook-backed Comscore study might back that up.

According to the report, seen by The Verge, as many as 75% of the top 20 apps available for iOS are made by Apple. The top four apps were also made by Apple, according to the report. The suggestion is that none of this is good news for the millions of third-party apps in the App Store. That's a shame considering some of the best iPhone apps aren't actually Apple's.

Comscore used data it regularly gathers from apps and websites alongside a survey of roughly 4,000 people asking about the default apps they used during the month of November. The results show that 75 percent of the top 20 apps on iOS in the US were made by Apple, while Google made 60 percent of the top apps on Android. The top four apps on both platforms were made by their respective parent company.

Facebook paid for the research so it could show the "impact of preinstalled apps on the competitive app ecosystem," according to Comscore.

Apple, predictably, isn't having any of it, and appears to suggest that the data was selected specifically to make it look the way Facebook needed it to.

Apple rejected the report's findings. "This Facebook-financed survey from December 2020 was narrowly tailored to give the false impression that there's little competition on the App Store," an Apple spokesperson told The Verge. "In truth, third-party apps compete with Apple's apps across every category and enjoy large scale success."

Regardless, antitrust laws are already trying to ban Apple from installing its own apps on its own devices, and reports like this will only help their cause. You can read more about the report, and see some graphs that illustrate Comscore's point, in The Verge's report.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.