The iPhone default apps give Apple a big edge, says Bloomberg

iPhone apps
iPhone apps (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A Bloomberg report outlines how Apple's first-party apps give it an advantage over third-party app makers.
  • It now includes 38 pre-installed apps in new iPhones.
  • The report does point out Android devices do the same thing.

Since Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, it has included some of its own apps that served to round out the experience out of the box. In more recent years, however, that has given Apple an edge over third-party app makers that could put it in antitrust violations.

In a new report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, he lays out how space in a smartphone has become a valuable commodity. But it wasn't until recently that Apple really made its own push in that space as it created more first-party apps that come in direct competition with many third-party apps.

Being a default app on the world's best-selling smartphone is valuable because consumers are subtly coaxed and prodded into using this more-established software rather than alternatives. For example, Safari is the iPhone's default web browser, so when a user clicks a link to a website, it will automatically open there, even if other browsers are on the handset.

Bloomberg notes that in 2007, the iPhone only came with 17 pre-installed apps. Now it comes with 38 pre-installed apps. It goes on to compare iOS to Microsoft of the 1990's when it actively tried to shut down web browsers that went up against Internet Explorer.

To be clear, there is no evidence Apple is trying to do that. But in pushing its apps first, that sets up an environment where most users will settle to using Apple Maps or Safari as opposed to downloading apps like Waze or Google Chrome.

Apple is fighting back against this narrative.

Apple said new iPhones come with in-house default apps to create a seamless user experience, while improving performance, battery life, security and privacy. "We have also created the App Store, the safest place to get apps, so customers can choose from millions of apps to find the ones that further enhance their iPhone," a company spokesman wrote in a statement. "In the few categories where Apple also has an app, we have many successful competitors."

It's also worth noting that Apple isn't the only one doing it. Bloomberg notes that Google ships the Pixel device with 30 pre-installed apps while Android devices come with Google's apps as well. Google was fined 4.3 billion euros by European antitrust regulators. The big difference is that with Android devices you can change default apps to non-Google ones but you can't do that on iPhones.

This is a deep conversation about antitrust competition in smartphones that not only involves Apple but companies like Google and Samsung as well. Bloomberg's piece goes into much more detail and warrants a read.

  • What a stupid argument.
    If you want a fair market to sell your software, stop renting space in some else’s software store front. If you want an environment more beneficial to you, go develop your on ecosystem, HD, storefront, market, etc.
  • It is indeed stupid to suggest one create their own store front. Especially if they want to be successful by writing software for the most popular platform for making money from developing software. And the Android store is not it.
  • "The big difference is that with Android devices you can change default apps to non-Google ones but you can't do that on iPhones." And the big difference with iPhones is that you can remove the default apps but on Android you can't (without rooting). This led to my uncle's old smartphone constantly having the storage full on the latest Android updates, he could literally only install a few apps before the warning came up, absolute madness. iOS will most likely get default app support in either iOS 14 or 15, whereas I can't see the situation that Android has changing.
  • What is your basis for saying 14 or 15 will bring default apps. I'm about to switch from Android to iPhone and this is one of my top concerns. I've never had an iPhone before.