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New iOS tools help Android developers -- and Google

Matt Hamblen | June 2, 2015
New discovery of iOS apps in Google Search gives Google more user data for ad sales, analysts say.

"Google's announcement represents a huge step forward for apps that are already installed on Apple devices," said Lei Sun, CEO for Yozio, a firm that helps companies increase their mobile app user base.

Google's step is "essentially freeing the information inside of apps so it is easily discoverable for users, an incredibly important function since people find products and content on Google through mobile web search," Sun said.

To take full advantage of the innovation, Sun said developers need to install deep mobile links inside their iOS apps in order for the Google search engine to find the data.

But indexing iOS apps for Google Search seems primarily to Google's advantage, not necessarily users, two analysts said.

"Linking search to iOS is more about increasing the value of Google Search and means that Google Search becomes more versatile, valuable and sticky to end users," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

"Google makes their money from search and sponsored search and not from Android licenses, so anything they can do to enhance use of Google Search on as many platforms as possible plays to their strength and ability to generate more revenue," Gold said. "The search folks don't care what OS you run, they just want to send you more ads that pay. It's a good play for Google."

For iOS developers, the Google Search capability should drive usage of iOS apps and services, added Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Gold agreed: "The developer wants his app used. In the example that Google showed at I/O, it was the Open Table app where each time the index from Google opens the OpenTable app and a user makes a reservation, the developer gets a fee. The more a developer can enable the use of Google search to open my app and make a reservation, the more money he makes. It's probably not a big deal to do it for most apps."

Even so, for Google, indexing iOS apps is "all about the user profiles and data" that Google can have access to, Moorhead said. "That's all Google cares about. Everything else is wrapped around that."


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