Apple today participated in a new study on the App Store commissioned by economists at Analysis Group, with the report highlighting the success of third-party developers on the App Store. The study comes as Apple faces concerns about the prioritization of its apps and dominance of the App Store as well as regulatory pressures to open iOS to alternative sideloading and App Store options.
Apple aims to provide facts about the ecosystem built by the App Store and the content developers create for it. The first part of the study focuses on the many ways developers can reach consumers outside of the App Store, through non-iOS devices such as smartphones, computers and other consoles, and through other digital marketplaces.
The second part of the study focuses on the growth of the App Store over time (there are now 1.8 million apps), 99.9 percent of which are third-party apps as the study is quick to point out that Apple has only 60 apps to compete with third-party apps.
The final part of the study focuses on the breadth of third-party apps available as alternatives to apps created by Apple, and notes that for many categories such as social networking, food, travel planning, and dating services, third-party apps are the only option because Apple doesn’t compete in these categories. He also notes that across most types of apps, Apple’s apps “outperform in popularity and account for a relatively small share of usage.”
For example, the best apps in each App Store category are listed and compared to Apple’s apps. In the US, Spotify is 1.6 times more popular than Apple Music among Apple users in terms of daily active users or time spent in the app, Netflix is 17 times more popular than Apple TV+, and Apple’s share among TV apps is just four percent. in the countries included in the study. The report reads: “Apple’s own apps are rarely the most popular of a particular type, and account for a small share of app usage.”
According to the study, Apple’s share in most app categories is less than 40 percent, and often even lower. When it comes to communication apps like Phone, Messages, etc., Apple has a 41 percent share in the US as it competes with WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, etc., and for the Maps category, it has a 36 percent share. In the television category, it’s three percent, and in the reading category, it’s eight percent.
The study takes an in-depth look at the many categories of apps where Apple competes, including calling, reading, music streaming, mapping, TV and video streaming, games, health and fitness, and news.
An Apple newsroom article about the study pulls down several specific reports highlighting that it found notable:
- Third-party apps are consumers’ only choices for entire types of apps, including social networking, dating services, travel planning, and food and drink.
- Leaders often differ in types of applications across countries, with many regional leaders outperforming their competitive peers globally.
- Third-party apps are the most popular among iPhone users in most regions for major app types, including music and TV streaming, movie streaming, reading, communication, and mapping.
- Across many types of apps, Apple’s own apps account for a relatively small share of app usage among iPhone users. This is the case even though some Apple apps are pre-installed to enable basic functions of the device.
- iPhone users often use multiple apps under one category, especially apps for communicating, reading news, watching videos, or navigating — emphasizing how easy it is to switch between apps and the breadth of opportunities for developers.
Apple also uses this newsroom article to point out the wide range of tools it makes available to developers, along with the investments it’s making in the “next generation of developers” using tools like accessible programming, app development in Swift, and Swift Playgrounds.
Apple said it does not explicitly plan to provide this data to regulators such as those developing the law on digital markets in Europe, but it is a public study and the company hopes regulators will note the available data and facts.
All data used in the study was sourced from Data.Ai (App Annie), and it looked at metrics such as active users, time spent on apps, and total number of downloads. Although the data was obtained from a third-party measuring tool because Apple has limited data of its own, the company said it was involved in the study and so the data was within the scope of what is reflected in the internal information that Apple has access to.
The full analysis suite study on third-party apps can be read on the App Store on the Apple website