The combined total of releases to Apple’s iOS app store for AOL, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo has more than doubled from 2012 to 2014. In 2012 the four companies had 315 releases spread across 98 different apps and in 2014 that number rose to 643 releases to a combined total of 143 different apps. That is an increase in releases per app from 3.21 to 4.49, and it also represents an increase in each company’s commitment to develop higher quality apps for the iOS platform.
Given that they have their own mobile platforms, one would think that both Microsoft and Google would have better things to do than target Apple’s iOS platform. However, out of the four, those companies each represent 39 percent and 32 percent of the total number of apps in the App Store, respectively. This proportion of apps however is not reflected in the number of releases. Yahoo and Google lead the pack in the number of releases per app at 10.07 and 4.87, which was enough to change the breakdown of which companies had the most releases in 2014.
As I have done in prior years, I gathered data from online app services like AppShopper.com, PocketGamer.biz (formerly 148Apps.biz) and Apple’s own Search API. This time I was able to compare the data collected over a three-year time period, which added some insight into how each company has changed their approach to development on Apple’s platform. Data collected included the latest release date of each app, the app’s category, number of updates in the last year, an overall count of new and removed apps, as well as each app’s peak ranking within their respective category over the last thirty days.
AOL – Appearing to have a fickle development team, AOL actually outnumbers Google in the total number of apps ever created for iOS. While AOL has less than half of the 62 iOS apps it has ever developed still in the App Store, the company continues to innovate and release new apps each year.
With the introduction of nine new apps in 2014 such as the navigation app Commute, a new messaging app called Pip and even a Password Manager, AOL is holding on to a consistent presence in the App Store with roughly one-third of its apps in the Top 200 for their respective categories in each of the last three years. Of the 26 apps the company has in the app store, MapQuest and its combined mail, newsstand, and weather app titled AOL are the only two apps that continue to remain in the Top Ten.
Microsoft – One thing to take note of is that many of Microsoft’s 24 new apps in 2014 have been released in the fourth quarter of 2014. It looked like Google was going to take over the top seat with the highest number of active apps in the app store this year until Microsoft had this surge of new apps late in 2014.
But if you take a closer look, Microsoft is really starting to focus more on business apps for its enterprise customers. With the likes of Office 365 Admin, Power BI and Dynamics CRM in addition to its productivity apps, Microsoft understands that even though its customers may be using an iPad or iPhone, they are still Microsoft’s customers.
Google – Despite having Android and a dominant presence online when it comes to web app development, Google continues to be a native iOS development juggernaut. Google managed to put out 224 releases in 2014, introducing 20 new apps, and it maintained an astounding 32 apps in their categories Top 200, 18 of which are in the Top 10.
Similar to Microsoft, Google released its online office suite including Docs, Sheets and Slides in 2014. Additionally with the introduction of AdWords Express, Google Admin, Analytics and My Business, it could be said that Google is taking on Microsoft in the app store by focusing on the business end of the spectrum.
On more of the consumer side of apps, Google did also introduce Google Play Movies and Google Play Newsstand to the App Store, complementing its Google Play Music and Google Play Books apps that were already in the app store prior to 2014. With so many great apps targeting the needs of a wide variety of interests, Google proves that it is possible to focus on everything.
Yahoo – Having the most focused approach of the four, Yahoo managed to crank out an average of 10 releases for each app it had in the App Store. With 151 releases in 2014, that averages out to about 3 releases to the App Store each week.
Over the years, Yahoo has developed a total of 43 different iOS apps. Of that total, only 15 of them are still in the App Store. That is a third of the total number of apps it could still have in the app store. While Microsoft and Google have adopted more of a shotgun approach, throwing apps out to see what sticks, Yahoo has had a much more targeted approach. The result is that 73 percent of its apps (11 of the 15) rank in the Top 200 in the app’s respective category. In fact, 5 of the 15, or one-third of the apps they support, are in the Top 10.
With a clear presence in sports with its Fantasy Football, Baseball, Hockey, Basketball, Soccer and even a Cricket app, Yahoo also has a strong representation in the News and Weather categories. Rounding out its top ranked apps includes Yahoo Finance, Mail, Flickr and even their Messenger app.
The number of releases that Yahoo’s collective iOS development teams have put out are a testament why these are all top ranking apps. Yahoo put out 151 releases in 2014 compared to 95 in 2013 and 66 in 2012. That is a dramatic increase in development activity while at the same time Yahoo has been cutting back on the number of apps they support.
While Yahoo has introduced some new apps, and pulled some old ones over the years, its commitment to developing quality apps for the platform has not faltered. In fact, one could say the company’s iOS strategy is stronger than ever.