Why Apple Apps Regularly Outrank Competitors in Search

Apple tweaked App Store searches so its apps don't always rank first

They make changes in the algorithms that their own apps do not dominate the search results in the iOS store.

As of mid-July, Apple has turned off the bundling of apps in search results, and the New York Times says data from Sensor Tower shows the change was effective. There is also Lawsuit against the copany's these policy allowed to proceed by the US Supreme court.

According to The Times report, fear that Apple has been favoring its own apps is cause for multiple antitrust complaints from the United States, Europe, and Russian Federation. It appears to have worked, too, with many of Apple's apps suffering as a result.

This has resulted in some absurd search results. Apple's SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, and SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller confirmed the move in an interview with the New York Times. These algorithms, which no company will ever explain in detail, play the biggest part in determining search results and thus, which apps get installed by consumers. The plaintiffs argue that the 30% cut that Apple takes on revenue generated by app sales, subscriptions, and in-app purchases leads them to pay higher prices since they are forced to make these transactions inside the App Store. Mind you, the App Store generated over $50 billion in sales a year ago, with over 60% of that money coming from direct searches. According to the report, Apple's engineers found that the search algorithm thought anyone searching for "music" were only interested in Apple Music because that app received so many taps. The publication found that Apple's own apps occupied the top spots for more than 700 search terms since 2016.

Apple tweaked App Store searches so its apps don't always rank first
Apple makes a change to App Store search results to keep the feds away

If a given search included multiple Apple apps, the algorithm would decide that people were looking for a particular Apple app and pop up more software from that developer. Instead, they said that the company's apps generally get higher placement in search results due to their popularity and because the rather generic-sounding names of these apps more closely resemble the search terms being used by consumers. Spotify was one of them, and it filed a complaint with European regulators in March in an effort to put a stop to Apple's "unfair" App Store practices.

In July, reporter Scott Austin highlighted the ongoing search issue for third-party developers in The Wall Street Journal.

Apple maintains that it never intentionally favored its own apps. They said the algorithms have been "improved" rather than "corrected".

Interestingly, the report also reveals that on the day after Apple unveiled its deadly credit card, searches for "money", "credit" and "debit" saw Apple's Wallet app in the number one spot, despite not ranking for those search terms before then.

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