Apple Manipulates the App Store to Boost Its Own Products


Speaking in an interview with The New York Times, Apple's Schiller and Eddy Cue said that they had adjusted the App Store algorithm to ensure Apple-owned apps weren't appearing too frequently in search results, following previous complaints that Apple apps always appeared first, ahead of the competition.

Another factor that gave Apple's own apps top billing was the result of them being preinstalled on users' iPhones in the first place, along with the fact that some people use the App Store search engine (which may be tied into the Spotlight search on iPhones as well) to find apps that are already on their iPhones. However, that has now changed.

Apple's own apps dropped in search results back in July, this was because Apple apparently handicapped their own apps to ensure that other apps would rise to the top instead of their.

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. Apple says that the reason why users reported seeing irrelevant apps when searching for a particular keyword, is because the algorithm used to group apps based on the developers.

In 2018, Apple apps appeared in the first eight results for "music" - including unrelated apps like iMovie and Clips - pushing Spotify to the No. 23 spot.

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Apple's Wallet was the top search result for "money", "credit", and "debit" earlier this year right after Apple debuted its credit card.

Additionally, first-party software generally has advantages that third-party apps don't. As the company faces an antitrust inquiry from the EU, Apple's executives were careful to avoid admitting any wrongdoing or harmful mistakes. 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. But if you're holding onto an old favorite that the developer isn't looking to update - like Microsoft Office 11 for the Mac - you'll want to start looking for replacements.

This has resulted in some absurd search results. Schiller and Cue suggested that App Store results are created to also offer up apps by the same developer, which explains why users might get not just one Apple-made result but half a dozen. Search results 2-8 were other Apple-made apps.

"It's not corrected", SVP Phil Schiller told the Times.

The move to 64-bit only apps for MacOS has been in the works for years, and Apple has been helping developers transition their 32-bit apps over to 64-bit. However, while Cue admitted that Apple makes mistakes all the time, and Schiller added that the company is "happy to admit when we do" he also insisted that "This wasn't a mistake".