Apple is “handicapping” its own apps on the App Store to avoid antitrust complaints.
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.
As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Apple-owned apps had been dominating the search results pages for competitive terms such as Music.
When searching for Music, users would not only see Apple Music but seven other Apple-owned apps in the first ten spots including Garage Band and Voice Memos, ahead of apps such as Spotify and Amazon Music.
It comes at a time when brands such as Spotify have criticized Apple for its handling of third-party applications and services, particularly those which compete directly with Apple.
According to Apple, its search engine often bundled together apps from the same developer for the convenience of users.
When searching for Office, for example, Apple shows most of the Microsoft Office range of applications to allow users to select the most appropriate.
However, the popularity of Apple’s apps meant that they were dominating the search results, and Apple has now changed the grouping feature of the algorithm and made other updates.
According to Sensor Tower, “on July 12, many Apple apps dropped sharply in the rankings of popular searches. The top results for “TV” went from four Apple apps to two. “Video” and “maps” changed from three top Apple apps to one. And Apple Wallet dropped from the No. 1 spot for “money” and “credit.”
Speaking of the changes, Schiller told The New York Times that “there’s nothing about the way we run search in the App Store that’s designed or intended to drive Apple’s downloads of our own apps. We’ll present results based on what we think the user wants.”
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