Apple has not been shy about offering third-party developer ways to increase visibility in iOS App Store – paid ad placements and Apple-generated "features" articles – but it insists it doesn't manipulate app search results to favor its own apps. Apple has already faced international scrutiny for allegedly monopolistic practices by software developers, and Apple said today it uses a complex 42-factor system to surface apps during user search, and deliberately hides the mechanics to prevent third-party manipulation.
The revelation came in response to a Wall Street Journal report that Apple's own apps appear first in 60% of the App Store categories and in 95% of Apple subscription or sales-generating categories, even when competing apps from Amazon and Google is higher ranked or more popular. For example, Apple Books 1
The interest in Apple's app store behind the appeals has peaked in recent months, as the company has faced renewed complaints from competitors such as Spotify and Netflix during the 30% app revenue. In March, Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the EU over fees, and Netflix refused to become a member of the Apple TV Channels service, only months after he bravely took out Apple's billing system while continuing to offer subscription services directly to users. Apple has previously faced investigations from the FTC and other agencies over its revenue sharing practices.
According to Apple, the search results in the App Store are determined by 42 factors, including a seemingly heavy but unspecified dependence on customer interest data. "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," the company told Journal. "This customer use is why Apple has strong search rankings, and that's the same reason why Uber, Microsoft and so many others often have high rankings as well."
While Apple would not reveal the way its multi-factor algorithm actually works, it suggested that name hits and "customer behavior data" were among the elements, no matter what they were worth. As frequent App Store users know, the right name of different apps often results in battles for different and competitive apps, questioning the weight that Apple assigns to a direct name match.
The listing of its own apps higher than its competitors gives Apple an "upper hand" in a $ 50 billion market, Journal says, at a time when the company is turning subscription revenue growth. Apple held an event called "It's Show Time" in March, focusing solely on a collection of branded news, games, credit cards, and video services that it planned to roll out throughout 2019, in some cases challenging existing options.