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Nearly half of iPhone users use YouTube's app, report says

Mobile data company Onavo says the video app is by far Google's most popular offering on iOS.

YouTube market share.
YouTube market share.

Removing YouTube from the pre-installed apps on iOS hasn't stopped users from finding it. Three months after its release, the standalone app is already on almost half of U.S. iPhones, according to market share data released today by mobile data company Onavo.

As of Dec. 31, 44.5 percent of iPhone users had downloaded the standalone YouTube app, according to the report. That's up from 20 percent in September, when it was released.

Onavo is best known for making apps that save users data by routing requests through their own servers before sending them to carriers. So how does the company measure market share? By recording which apps are making those data requests, across "millions of devices" that have Onavo installed, co-founder and Guy Rosen said in an e-mail.

"Onavo Insights processes anonymized, aggregated usage data independently of third parties," he said. "The data is then passed through a set of statistical filters to clean out any noise and biases."

This is different from companies like ad network Chitika, which relies on usage data provided by third-party publishers and has recently come under fire for the methodology it uses in its own market share reports.

If accurate, Onavo's numbers represent significant progress for YouTube, which had to start from scratch last fall when iOS 6 arrived and removed YouTube as a pre-installed app. It would also help explain Google's fourth-quarter earnings numbers, which beat analysts' expectations with stronger-than-expected growth in revenue from mobile devices and from YouTube.

While YouTube is the clear leader among Google apps in Onavo's findings, Maps isn't far behind. Just two weeks after its release, Google Maps for iOS was already on 29 percent of U.S. iPhones. In time, it wouldn't be surprising to see it match or exceed YouTube's audience.

Onavo published iOS market share data for other Google apps. The findings:

  • Google Search: 16 percent
  • Gmail: 9.8 percent
  • Chrome: 9.5 percent
  • Translate: 4.8 percent
  • Drive: 3.6 percent
  • Earth: 2.7 percent