Apple-Commissioned Study Highlights Success of Third-Party Apps

Apple today shared a new App Store study that it commissioned from economists at Analysis Group, with the report highlighting the success of third-party developers on the App Store. The study comes as Apple is facing concerns about the prioritization and dominance of its apps on the ‌App Store‌ as well as regulatory pressure to open up iOS to sideloading and alternate app store options.

iOS App Store General Feature Sqaure Complement
Apple's aim is to offer up facts on the ecosystem the ‌App Store‌ has created and the content that developers are creating for it. The first part of the study focuses on the numerous ways that developers can reach consumers outside of the ‌App Store‌, through non-iOS devices like other smartphones, PCs, and consoles and through other digital marketplaces.

app store billings
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 just 60 apps that are competing with third-party apps.

The final part of the study focuses on the breadth of third-party apps that are available as alternatives to Apple-created apps, and it points out that for many categories like social networks, food, travel planning, and dating services, third-party apps are the only option as Apple does not compete in these categories. It also points out that across most app types, Apple's apps are "eclipsed in popularity and account for a relatively small share of usage."

top apps across types of apps
As an example, the top apps in each ‌App Store‌ category are listed and compared against Apple apps. In the U.S., Spotify is 1.6x more popular than Apple Music among Apple users in terms of daily active users or time spent in the app, and Netflix is 17x more popular than Apple TV+, and Apple's share among TV apps has never exceeded four percent in the countries included in the study. "Apple's own apps are rarely the most popular app of a particular type, and account for a small share of app usage," reads the report.

Apple's share of most app categories falls below 40 percent, according to the study, and is often lower. When it comes to communication apps like Phone, Messages, and others, Apple has a 41 percent share in the U.S. because it competes with WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and others, and for the maps category, it has a 36 percent share. In the TV category, it has a three percent share, and in the reading category, it has an eight percent share.

apple app share among top apps
The study takes a deep dive into several app categories where Apple competes, including communication, reading, music streaming, mapping, TV and video streaming, games, health and fitness, and news.

iphone music top streaming services

Average listening time per day by iPhone users

Apple in the newsroom article on the study pulls out several specific report highlights that it found notable:

  • Third-party apps are the only options for consumers for entire types of apps, including social networking, dating services, travel planning, and food and drink.
  • Leaders in app types often vary across countries, with many regional leaders outperforming their globally competitive counterparts.
  • Third-party apps are the most popular among ‌iPhone‌ users in most regions for major app types, including music streaming, TV and movie streaming, reading, communication, and mapping apps.
  • Across many app types, 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 preinstalled to enable core functionality of the device.
  • ‌iPhone‌ users often use multiple apps within a single category, especially apps for communicating, reading the news, watching videos, or navigating -- underscoring how easily users can switch between apps and the breadth of opportunity for developers.

Apple also uses the newsroom article to point out the wide range of tools that it makes available to developers, along with the investments that it makes in the "next generation of developers" with tools like Everyone Can Code, App Development in Swift, and Swift Playgrounds.

Apple said that it does not expressly plan to provide this data to regulators like those developing the Digital Markets Act in Europe, but it is a public study and the company hopes regulators will take notice of the data and facts made available.

All of the data used for the study was sourced from Data.Ai (App Annie), and it looked at metrics like active users, time spent in apps, and total number of downloads. Though the data was sourced from a third-party measurement tool because Apple has limited data of its own, the company did say that it is partnering on the study and thus the data was within the realm of what's reflected in the internal information that Apple does have access to.

The full Analysis Group study on third-party apps on the ‌App Store‌ can be read on Apple's website

Top Rated Comments

vipergts2207 Avatar
27 months ago
I’m sure this report contains no bias…
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macative Avatar
27 months ago

Last I checked Apple still has control of their App Store. They’re just going have to stop preventing consumers from installing software from other sources or stores. If I buy a PS5 from Walmart, Walmart can’t tell me I’m not allowed to get software for it from Target, Amazon, or Best Buy.
That's not really analogous. If you buy a PS5, can you play open source PS5 games made by anyone? No, you can only play officially sanctioned PS5 games.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
erikkfi Avatar
27 months ago
No one is suggesting Apple shouldn’t be able to run their own app store.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macative Avatar
27 months ago
Apple puts all these metrics up about how "few" apps Apple has that compete with third party apps.

What Apple neglects to mention is that they control the OS that the apps run on, and Apple's apps have special access to the OS and to each other that third party apps do not have. Apple's apps can do things that third party apps cannot, because Apple says so.

Apple: if this huge competitive advantage didn't exist in the first place, you would never need a study to point out that 60 apps is not a lot compared to 1.8 million.

It is a such pointless and insulting study, because at any time Apple can squash any app by making their own version, that is better, and is only better because it can do things Apple won't allow the third party version to do.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
turbineseaplane Avatar
27 months ago
"Marlboro says smoking isn't a problem - may even be healthy! - Regulations not needed"

News at 6
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macintosh TV Avatar
27 months ago
I think the billions of dollars made by app developers are evidence enough to show they're successful.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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