Report Shows Apple Apps Come First in App Store Search

Apple accused of pushing its own apps to the top in App Store search results

A new report from the Wall Street Journal found that Apple's apps appeared at the very top of the App Store during 60 percent of basic searches.

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.

After being accused of skirting some of its own rules for search results rankings, Apple has fired back. Apple believes that their apps ranked first in WSJ's testing due to the fact that they are popular with consumers. If the iTunes app or Apple TV+ always pops up first when someone does a search for "movies" instead of HBO GO or Netflix, that gives Apple an unfair advantage.

Apple told The Wall Street Journal that it has a total of 42 factors that it considers while ranking search results.

Effectively, Apple seems to be saying that because users use iOS Spotlight search to locate apps they have already downloaded, its own apps with correlating names are boosted higher in search.

Fortune writes that this move could result in a ripple effect, together with Fortnite, this would serve as a model for Android makers who are looking to save Google Play Store's 15-35% costs. "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". Schachter said this is the only company to have changed the payment method within the app itself. Apple is already facing an antitrust lawsuit and an European Union investigation regarding how it operates the App Store. The latter was the foundation of the landmark antitrust case against Microsoft in the '90s, and the combination of using search results to boost a company's own offerings is what got Google slammed with a multibillion-dollar antitrust fine in the European Union back in 2017. A guide to optimise the discovery of apps has also been provided on the Apple Developer site that lists all the major organic ways to improve search result ranking of apps. One of the big problems though is that Apple is leaning more on its apps and services to make money.

Amazon Kindle and Spotify also stepped away from Apple in-app subscriptions.

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