Apple Admits Its Apps Had App Store Advantage

App tweaks App store searches

Apple Inc., following antitrust scrutiny in Europe and the United States, has altered the search algorithm for its App Store so that the company's own apps do not dominate the top positions, the New York Times reported on Monday. This structure makes the App Store incredibly powerful, much in the same way that ranking first on Google or at the top of Facebook's feed is make-or-break for smaller players. However, that has now changed.

A separate review of search results conducted by the Wall Street Journal also concluded in July that the App Store search algorithms were giving Apple's first-party apps a clear edge over third-party apps. If you searched for "music", you'd find apps like iTunes Remote and Music Memos ranking well above Pandora and Spotify, which makes very little sense.

So in July, Apple finally removed all of its apps from showing up in search results, which caused a number of first-party apps like Apple Wallet top drop in rank.

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.

Apple is likely to officially release macOS Catalina after its iPhone 11 launch event on September 10 wraps up, and while the new operating system for Macs and MacBooks brings plenty of new features, it's also killing off 235 apps - which means they will no longer be able to run. 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. Even popular apps such as Netflix, Spotify, and Stitcher would often appear dozens of spots deep in the search results.


In that regard, Apple's App Store advantage looks a lot like Amazon's competitive edge in selling its own brands on its e-commerce platform.

With searches for "music" displaying Apple Music and other Apple apps as results, competitors like Spotify and other music streaming apps fell by the wayside.

The issue lies in the fact that by pushing its own apps to the top of search results, Apple was able to potentially influence how many of its own apps were downloaded by customers. "It's not corrected", Schiller said of the algorithm. 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. That's great news for competing third-party developers.

"It's improved", said SVP Eddy Cue.

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.

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