Report finds Apple routinely favors its own apps in App Store searches

A new report shows that Apple apps are typically shown before other apps when users input certain search queries (via WSJ-possible paywall).

They also note that if more and more prominent apps can bypass Google's payment option, the company could then see reduced profits from the apps that it helped become popular. During a wide-ranging test of basic app search terms like "maps", WSJ discovered that some of Apple's apps show up first in the rankings 60% of the time.

Similarly, Apple tells developers that search results on the App Store are influenced by downloads, user reviews, and ratings.

After being accused of skirting some of its own rules for search results rankings, Apple has fired back.

Many of Apple's iOS apps can be deleted to save space. It is ranked as the third most popular app in the Books category. But it won't disclose how exactly the algorithm works to "maintain a level playing field for developers and prevent the manipulation of results".

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Apple denied that there was any malicious intent going on, saying to the Journal: "Apple customers have a very strong connection to our products and many of them use search as a way to find and open their apps". Instead they refer users the App Store and Google Play Store for details. It used at least three keyword searches related to about 40 Apple apps and third-party apps. If you search for "music", Apple Music shows up prominently at the top (including an ad), followed by other options like YouTube Music, Spotify, and more.

When it comes to the competition in the App Store, it's already a cutthroat market.

Tinder says “no thanks” to Google and the 15-30% revenue share the tech company charges to apps to be in the Google Play Store, reports Bloomberg. Two developers have also filed a lawsuit against the company claiming the App Store is an illegal monopoly for the ways Apple controls pricing and discovery, charges developers 30 percent of every transaction, and its restrictions on distributing apps outside the App Store.

Spotify has also spurred an investigation in the European Union into Apple's 30 percent cut of in-app purchases, with Spotify claiming that it gives Apple Music an unfair pricing advantage if Spotify is forced to price its own offering at a higher rate to make up for Apple's cut.

  • Delia Davidson