Apple is under scrutiny once more for the way it runs its App Store – and the sensitive question of whether its own apps and services are prioritised above those of other companies.
This time it’s the Wall Street Journal with an investigation into the results of searches on the App Store. “Searches for ‘music,’ ‘audiobooks’ and other categories rank company apps first, a process some developers find unfair,” is how it presented the results of its research. “Apple Inc.’s mobile apps routinely appear first in search results ahead of competitors in its App Store, a powerful advantage that skirts some of the company’s rules on such rankings… Apple apps that generate revenue through subscriptions or sales, like Music or Books, showed up first in 95% of searches related to those apps.”
A smoking gun at a time when big technology companies generally, and Apple in particular (not least because of Spotify’s efforts) are being carefully monitored for any anti-competitive behaviour on their platforms. Apple, however, is arguing that the personalised aspect of its App Store search feature is the key here, rather than any nefarious algorithm-gaming on its part.
“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,” is how the company put it in a statement. “This customer usage is the reason Apple has strong rankings in search, and it’s the same reason Uber, Microsoft and so many others often have high rankings as well.”
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