Medium has a fascinating piece on algorithmic glitches on the Apple App Store and how this can, in directly affecting chart placings in a crowded and fast-moving business, literally make or break an app. The two main examples the piece draws on and compares are both music-related as well – Beats Music and SoundCloud. While SoundCloud’s ranking stays steady during one of the the analysis periods (Q2 2014), Beats’ placing fluctuates wildly, dropping out of the chart, then zooming to #5, holding there for 10 days and falling again. Medium describes this as not being “a typical organic spike” as there was no big news or promotion around Beats at this time. “There are clear signs of boosting,” it says, adding that only a few weeks later Apple confirmed its acquisition of Beats. “The timing of this campaign just before the acquisition seems somewhat dubious,” it ruminates. “Perhaps a sign of deliberate manipulation to impress M&A assessment, or simply a mere coincidence. Having access to this type of data gives us the ability to call Beats Music out. Apple turns a blind eye towards these practices.” There is lots of geeky analysis of chart behaviour but the piece concludes by saying that Google “does a decent job engaging around changes to its search algorithm” because search is key to its business but Apple, because search is negligible to its business, doesn’t.

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