Facebook-commissioned ‘study’ claims Apple’s pre-installed apps unfairly dominate the iPhone

Technology

9to5Mac 07 July, 2021 - 08:06am 29 views

A new study has been published that aims to show how popular Apple and Google’s first-party apps are and to specifically make the case that they limit competition as they’re preinstalled. The Verge got an exclusive look at the study that was paid for by one of Apple and Google’s biggest critics. However, Apple says the study was “seriously flawed.”

Facebook paid Comscore to conduct the study that included asking about 4,000 people last fall how they use iOS with default and third-party apps.

The results found by Comscore line up with criticism Facebook has leveled at Apple and Google before – that preinstalled apps on iOS and Android dominate, particularly with basics like Messages, Clock, Photos, Weather, Camera, etc. iMessage is the one that Facebook has brought up concerns about most often.

And Apple is seeing pressure from legislators in the US and Europe about its pre-installed apps. That comes after Russia forced Apple to offer third-party apps on setup earlier this spring.

The Facebook commissioned study found that out of the top 20 apps, 15 were made by Apple. The five third-party apps that made the list were YouTube (9th), Facebook (12th), Amazon (16th), Instagram (19th), and Gmail (20th). Facebook was the only third-party developer to see two of its apps in the top 20.

Here’s what Facebook had to say about the study:

Facebook paid for the Comscore study to show the “impact of preinstalled apps on the competitive app ecosystem,” according to company spokesman Joe Osborne. The social network’s executives have long criticized Apple’s limitations on third-party developers for hindering their ability to distribute mobile games and compete effectively with iMessage.

For its part, Apple says the methodology of the study was “seriously flawed in a number of ways” and was specifically designed to “give the false impression that there’s little competition on the App Store.”

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.”

Apple also said that the survey contradicted an April 2021 report from Comscore on app use but The Verge’s Alex Heath says that the more recent study “didn’t attempt to factor in the usage of all preinstalled apps like the Facebook-commissioned study did.”

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Facebook is the most popular social media service in the world with 2.32 billion monthly active users as of December 31, 2018

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Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.

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Facebook-backed study claims default apps dominate on iPhone, Android | AppleInsider

AppleInsider 07 July, 2021 - 09:17am

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A new App Store study paid for by Facebook says that Apple and Google's own default apps dominate key categories, making it harder for third-party developers to compete.

Following its sponsoring of research to lambast App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14, Facebook has now paid for a separate examination of the App Store. This one claims that of the top 20 most-used iPhone apps, Apple makes 15.

Similarly, the study by Comscore claims that Google owns 12 of the top 20 most-used Android apps.

"[The study shows] the impact of preinstalled apps on the competitive app ecosystem," Joe Osborne, Comscore spokesperson said to The Verge.

Significantly, however, neither Apple nor Google publish usage data for their apps. As a result, Comscore's calculations are reportedly primarily based on a survey that is said to have asked around 4,000 users which apps they used.

The full report has not yet been released, and the only further detail about the survey is that respondents were asked during the month of November 2020. There is no breakdown of what proportion of users use iOS or Android, nor any demographic detail about the respondents.

Perhaps consequently, the data revealed so far contains oddities and anomalies. The most-used app on the iPhone, for instance, is said to be the Phone app — whereas no statistically significant number of Android respondents used their phones.

Extrapolating from the 4,000 respondents, Comscore reportedly also notes that some 78 million iPhone users have used the stock Calculator app on iOS. It claims that this is more than the number of Android users who use Gmail.

Apple told The Verge that the survey was "seriously flawed in a number of ways," and also that its findings contradict other data from Comscore.

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

Comscore's survey was conducted in December 2020, asking users about their use in November 2020. As of July 2021, the full report is not listed on Comscore's site.

In the interim, Apple has been facing rising criticism of its App Store policies.

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TikTok tried to secretly track iPhone users, but Apple blocked the sneaky attempt

BGR 07 July, 2021 - 08:20am

Apple now lets users decide if they want to allow applications to track their activity across other apps and websites. The feature is a boon for privacy advocates but also makes life tougher for advertising platforms. Note that platforms like Facebook and TikTok can charge a premium for more targeted ads. And given that iOS users tend to be a more coveted group of smartphone users, TikTok and Apple were on something of a collision course.

Because app tracking is now opt-in, many users are choosing to keep it off. In fact, reports suggest that as many as 96% of iOS users are opting to keep app tracking turned off.

Though not allowed by Apple, TikTok, and other companies, in response to iOS 14.5, tried tinkering with a new advertising framework called device fingerprinting which can gather user data.

The Wall Street Journal relayed the following back in April:

The company has joined forces with dozens of Chinese trade groups and tech firms working with the state-backed China Advertising Association to develop the new technique, which would use technology called device fingerprinting, the people said. Dubbed CAID, the advertising method is being tested through apps and gathers iPhone user data. Through the use of an algorithm, it can track users for purposes of targeting ads in a way that Apple is seeking to prevent.

Some of the bigger companies involved in CAID testing include Proctor & Gamble, Deloitte LLP, and TikTok.

The Financial Times points out that CAID put Apple in a tough position. It could either look in the other direction allow app developers to take advantage of it. Or, it could reject it out of hand and risk “the ire of Beijing.”

Apple, though, stood its ground. Apple rejected TikTok app updates that included CAID in new builds.

“The Chinese app ecosystem was collectively baiting the bull with CAID, under the theory that Apple couldn’t afford to ban every major app in the market,” Alex Bauer, head of product marketing at adtech group Branch, told the Times.

“Apple called their bluff, and seems to have reasserted control over the situation by aggressively rapping knuckles on early adopters before the consortium gained any real momentum,” Bauer added.

As we saw with the Fortnite saga, Apple certainly isn’t afraid to take a principled stand even if it means tangling with prominent app developers.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

Apple and Google crowd out the competition with default apps

The Verge 07 July, 2021 - 07:28am

A new study shows how Apple and Google’s preinstalled apps dominate their mobile platforms

That’s the takeaway from a new Comscore study that ranks the popularity of preinstalled iOS and Android apps, such as Apple’s Messages, alongside apps made by other developers. The results show that the majority of apps people use on their phones in the US come preinstalled by either Apple or Google. The first-of-its-kind report was commissioned by Facebook, one of Apple’s loudest critics, and shared exclusively with The Verge.

Preinstalled services dominate when it comes to basics like weather, photos, and clocks, according to the report, suggesting these categories will be difficult for other apps to compete in. Defaults don’t win out exclusively, though: Apple Maps and Music don’t appear on the iOS list at all, and Gmail makes the iOS list several entries below Apple Mail.

The timing, as Facebook likely intentioned, is apt: Apple and Google are increasingly under scrutiny for how they favor their own services over competitors like Spotify. US lawmakers are currently reviewing a new set of bills designed to curb the power of Big Tech, including legislation that could potentially bar Apple and Google from giving their services the upper hand against rivals.

The pushback stems from how Apple and Google bundle their apps and services with their mobile operating systems in ways that some of their competitors think is unfair. The criticism is harsher against Apple, given that it more tightly controls the apps that come preinstalled on the iPhone and doesn’t allow developers to circumvent its App Store.

At the same time, it has been difficult to know how popular these preinstalled apps are relative to apps made by third-party developers since Apple and Google don’t disclose user numbers for their default apps. Research firms regularly track the popularity of apps that are available for download in app stores, but Comscore’s study is the first real attempt at charting how default mobile apps compete against other developers.

You can view the full interactive version here.

Facebook is the only outside developer with more than one app on the iOS list and the only developer with three apps on the list for Android. Randomly, a staggering 78 million people used Apple’s Calculator app — more than the users of Gmail 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. The social network’s executives have long criticized Apple’s limitations on third-party developers for hindering their ability to distribute mobile games and compete effectively with iMessage.

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.”

The spokesperson said the survey’s methodology was “seriously flawed in a number of ways” and that the results contradicted Comscore’s recent April 2021 rankings on app usage. But those rankings didn't attempt to factor in the usage of all preinstalled apps like the Facebook-commissioned study did.

Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Besides Comscore showing app usage in the US for a particular window of time, there are a couple of other quirks in its methodology to note: it did not include browsers such as Apple’s Safari or Google’s Chrome in the rankings or what it calls “embedded operating system features” like Siri. And 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.

Still, the report points to the power platform owners have over what apps are used on their devices. It’s not just the app stores that serve as gatekeepers, but the phones themselves.

Some Chinese companies failed to circumvent Apple's app tracking policy

Gizchina.com 07 July, 2021 - 05:46am

With the release of iOS 14.5, all apps that use user data are required to request permission to track activities in order to serve relevant ads. They were left with no choice – they are obliged to send the user a request to access his Ad ID.

Not all software developers liked this innovation, and they began to look for workarounds. A number of Chinese companies, including Baidu, Tencent, ByteDance, have teamed up in a technology group to work with the Beijing State Advertising Association of China (CAA) to develop a way to bypass Application Tracking Transparency.

The idea was to release app updates with a bypass algorithm (CAID) built into them. The calculation was also that Apple would not want to lose its audience in the Chinese market, so it would not dare to massively block the software. But the Cupertino-based company has decided to harshly suppress all attempts to infringe on privacy by application developers.

Apple has clearly stated that the CAID mechanism is against the App Store terms. It simply will not allow utilities that contain algorithms to bypass the prohibition on surveillance into the open spaces of its application store. In addition, it recalled that the terms and conditions of the App Store are equal for all users, it will not do any favors to anyone.

In the meantime, the application transparency mode has led to a churn of advertisers from iOS devices. From May to June, their number decreased by 17%; and they now chose the Android platform as a platform for their advertising. According to experts, 70% of users refused to have applications track their actions.

The increase in the number of advertisers has already triggered a 30% increase; in the cost of advertising on the Android platform. But the trick is that Google also intends to implement a transparency mechanism in Android. Such actions of the tech giants can have a serious impact on the advertising services market; and a number of companies will have a hard time. Targeted ad revenues will fall.

Less than 33% of iOS users have allowed apps to track their activity, according to research firm Branch Metrics. As a result, the amount spent by advertisers on the Apple mobile platform decreased by about a third; in the period from June 1 to July 1 this year. At the same time, their ad spend for Android users grew more than 10% in the same month. Difficulties in collecting data from iOS users have led to an increase in the demand and price of advertising for Android. Recall that according to available data; about 72.8 percent of smartphones worldwide are powered by Android, while iOS accounts for 26.4 percent.

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Apple Calls Facebook-Commissioned Study on Preinstalled App Usage 'Seriously Flawed'

MacRumors 07 July, 2021 - 05:40am

According to the findings, 75 percent of the top 20 apps on iOS in the U.S. 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.

The unique study reveals a number of quirks including the fact that Apple's Calculator app has more users than Gmail on Android. Facebook is the only third-party developer with more than one app on the iOS list of apps and the only developer with three apps on the Android list.

Facebook said that it paid for the Comscore study to show the "impact of preinstalled apps on the competitive app ecosystem," hinting at the apparently anti-competitive nature of Android and iOS. Facebook has found itself increasingly at odds with Apple, criticizing the company's limitations on third-party developers, privacy measures such as App Tracking Transparency, the inability for Messenger to be selected as the default on the ‌iPhone‌, and more.

The report suggests that some app categories that already have a pre-installed app, such as Weather, are difficult for other apps from third parties to compete in. However, it is worth noting that default apps do not win out in every category; for example, Apple Maps and Apple Music do not appear in the rankings at all, while Gmail is represented alongside Apple Mail.

Speaking to The Verge, Apple scolded the report as "seriously flawed in a number of ways."

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

The spokesperson for Apple criticized the report's methodology and said that the results contradicted Comscore's recent April 2021 rankings on app usage, even if those previous rankings excluded pre-installed apps.

Nevertheless, Facebook clearly hopes that the study will point to the power platform owners have over what apps users choose to use on their devices.

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Apple’s iPhone is so good at protecting privacy, advertisers are giving up and switching to Android

Yahoo Entertainment 06 July, 2021 - 06:21pm

Apple notes on its website that App Tracking Transparency “lets you control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites for ads or sharing with data brokers.”

Because Apple views privacy as a cornerstone feature of the iPhone, app tracking on iOS is turned off by default. As a result, users who are okay with apps tracking their activity must now opt-in. Early reports suggest that 96% of iOS users aren’t opting into app tracking, which is exactly the scenario platforms like Facebook were afraid of. A more recent report indicates that more than 75% of iOS users aren’t opting into app tracking. Regardless, the takeaway here is clear: most users aren’t keen on app tracking when pro-actively presented with a choice.

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework makes it harder for advertisers to compile data on individual iPhone users. Consequently, advertisers who have long favored iOS advertising are setting their sights on Android.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Digital advertisers say they have lost much of the granular data that made mobile ads on iOS devices effective and justified their prices. In recent months, ad-buyers have deployed their iOS ad spending in much less targeted ways than were previously possible, marketers and ad-tech companies say.

All told, Apple’s iPhone privacy push has resulted in a 33% drop in advertising spend on iOS devices. Meanwhile, the Journal highlights how one digital ad agency – Tinuiti Inc. — has seen ad spend on Android jump by nearly 50% since May.

Not surprisingly, Facebook hasn’t been shy about criticizing Apple’s App Tracking feature. All the way back in December, Facebook said that Apple’s goal was to “force businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, meaning Apple will profit and many free services will have to start charging or exit the market.”

Facebook also said that Apple’s new framework will hurt small businesses struggling to survive in a post-coronavirus pandemic world. Facebook cited one of its own studies and relayed that small businesses might see a 60% drop in website sales from ads as a result of Apple’s new rules.

Apple initially announced its updated app tracking guidelines at WWDC 2020. The company, however, didn’t implement it right away with the release of iOS 14. On the contrary, Apple delayed the rollout so that advertisers and platforms like Facebook could plan accordingly. And even though advertisers are flocking to Android, there’s no reason to believe that Apple will reverse course anytime soon. Recall, Apple takes iPhone privacy incredibly seriously. In 2018, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “privacy is a fundamental human right.”

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Shares in so-called meme stocks with a following among retail investors lost ground on Wednesday, with AMC Entertainment shares down 8.1%, on track for their fourth straight day of declines, and GameStop Corp falling 4.9%. AMC, which fell almost 12% in the previous three sessions, hit a record high of $72.62 in early June as members of social media platforms including Twitter and Reddit's WallStreetBets urged each other to buy the stock. The cinema operator, which on Tuesday scrapped a shareholder approval request for an increase in the number of shares outstanding, was trading at $45.91 after breaching its 30-day moving average.

Summer is often a positive time for the stock market, but that's not proving to be the case this week. Wednesday morning brought continued volatility on Wall Street, as investors are trying to work through whether recent inflationary indications will reverse themselves just as quickly as they emerged. As of 11:30 a.m. EDT today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) was up 67 points to 34,644.

Lemonade (NYSE: LMND) was one of the hottest tech IPOs of 2020. Since then Lemonade's stock price tumbled to about $60 by mid-May. The Texas winter storm in February sparked an unexpected surge in insurance claims, while inflation concerns in the broader economy torpedoed frothier growth stocks like Lemonade. Lemonade's stock price has subsequently rebounded above $100 a share again, but is this volatile stock worth buying at these levels?

Energy stocks had a good run in the first half of 2021. The S&P Energy Select Sector Index (^IXE) is up 44% year to date. On Monday, the OPEC meeting was called off as member countries couldn't agree on an output increase for July.

Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner has often said: "Winners keep on winning." In other words, don't be afraid to buy a stock just because its share price has appreciated significantly -- those stocks can still be great places to put your money.

Shares of ChargePoint Holdings (NYSE: CHPT) shot through the roof in June, gaining a whopping 42.7%, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The shares may have dropped nearly 9% already so far in July, but some investors only appear to be taking some profits off the table after the EV charging stock's mind-boggling rally in June. ChargePoint shares rose by double digits soon after the company reported its first-quarter earnings on June 3.

Cathie Wood has recently become a household name for many stock pickers. Cathie Wood invests with a long-term mindset, focusing on innovative technologies rather than short-term catalysts. CEO Elon Musk has long said that manufacturing efficiency would be one of Tesla's greatest advantages, and now the company has data to back that bold claim.

Shares of Biohaven Pharmaceutical (NYSE: BHVN) are on the move following a preliminary revenue report for the second quarter. Investors excited about Nurtec sales that outperformed expectations drove the stock 10.1% higher as of 11:25 a.m. EDT Wednesday. In May, the FDA approved Biohaven's lead drug, Nurtec ODT, to prevent migraine headaches in addition to its previous indication as an acute pain reliever.

Shares of Teladoc Health (NYSE: TDOC) were falling 3% as of 11:45 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. With COVID cases and death rates in the U.S. at the lowest levels since the early days of the pandemic, investors could be reacting to the prospect that the health emergency is winding down. Although a late-June uptick in cases appears to have reversed nationally, case reporting over the holiday weekend showed half of the states had meaningful increases in the past week.

Shares of fuboTV (NYSE: FUBO), Coupang (NYSE: CPNG), and Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) have been heading upward, and I expect them to continue to move higher this month. FuboTV runs a fast-growing live TV streaming service, and its shares have taken investors on a roller-coaster ride since they hit the market at $10 just nine months ago. FuboTV has posted year-over-year revenue gains of 71%, 98%, and 135% in its first three quarters as a public company.

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