A new study from Comscore that was shared exclusively with The Verge alleges that the majority of apps used on people’s smartphones are preinstalled by either Apple or Google. The report was commissioned by Facebook, a company that hasn’t been the biggest fan of Apple since it introduced new privacy features to iOS 14.5. The pre-installed apps dominated when it came to basic services like weather, photos, and clocks.
The report also details how not all default apps win out on smartphones. For example, Apple Maps is nowhere to be seen, and nor is Apple Music, and Gmail comes in below Apple Mail on iOS too. The study was conducted in December last year, and data was collected from roughly 4,000 people by Comscore, gathered from the company’s apps and websites. On iOS, 75% of the most used apps are made by Apple, and on Android, 60% of the most used apps are made by Google. Facebook is the only company to own more than one app in the top 20 on iOS, and the only company to own three apps on Android.
Facebook paid for the Comscore study to show the “impact of preinstalled apps on the competitive app ecosystem,” according to company spokesman Joe Osborne. Apple rejected the findings of the report. “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.”
The spokesperson further goes on to say that the survey’s methodology was “seriously flawed in a number of ways”. For example, it’s noted that the results seemingly contradict an earlier report by Comscore in April 2021, though that study did not factor in all preinstalled apps.
The methodology has its quirks; it did not include browsers such as Apple’s Safari or Google’s Chrome in the rankings. It also did not consider “embedded operating system features” like Siri. Results for Android weren’t gathered by specific phone manufacturers, meaning app usage isn’t broken out for Samsung phones relative to the Google Pixel, for example. That’s why Samsung Calculator and Samsung Email are high up the list on Android.