Google and Facebook are rivals of Apple, but they also rely on it a whole lot — as a new report by app analytics platform Sensor Tower makes clear. It highlights how Google and Facebook were two of the top three publishers on the iOS App Store in January, with Google holding the top spot.
It’s the perfect illustration of the “coopetition” relationship that exists between the tech giants.
The Sensor Tower report says Google was the highest-ranking mobile publisher worldwide for January 2021. It racked up almost 250 million installs in January across iOS and Google Play. The report doesn’t say what percentage of these 250 million came from the App Store. But, whatever number it was, it was enough to make Google the month’s top iOS developer.
Meanwhile, Facebook came in at No. 3 in January, after Chinese developer Tencent. Facebook publishes four heavy hitters when it comes to iOS apps. There is, of course, the Facebook app itself, along with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. Facebook reportedly scored around 191 million downloads in the month. Again, it’s not clear what proportion of these were on iOS, although it was enough to earn Facebook the No. 3 spot in terms of App Store publishers.
Microsoft also made the list (coming in sixth), while Amazon took the No. 9 spot.
It’s a reminder of how, despite sniping at each other, tech giants rely on one another for software and platforms. Of these companies, Facebook’s relationship with Apple is (currently) the most overtly contentious. Facebook recently took shots at Apple in full-page newspaper ads. Facebook might even be lining up an antitrust lawsuit against Apple. But it also, clearly, relies on the App Store to rake in a lot of its revenue.
It’s not just the publicly available App Store, either. A couple of years ago, Apple temporarily revoked Facebook’s developer certificate, breaking all of the social network’s internal apps, for violating Cupertino’s rules. Even simple Facebook internal tools such as its lunch menu app stopped working.
Google, too, has had its differences with Apple in the past. (Remember the words “thermonuclear war,” anyone?). Google’s parent company Alphabet is also behind Android, the biggest mobile OS rival to iOS. But Google needs the App Store for distributing many of its apps. Not to mention the $8 billion to $12 billion it pays Apple each year to be iOS’s default search engine. According to The New York Times, this paid placement could represent up to 21% of Apple’s annual profits.
Cupertino, for its part, makes apps like Apple Music that are available on other platforms like Android. But it’s far from a top developer in terms of monthly app installs, as the above list makes clear.