Wall Street Journal says Apple is favoring its own apps on the App Store

A new report from The Wall Street Journal criticizes Apple for ranking its own apps ahead of the competition in App Store search results, in the latest row over Apple’s dominance.

According to the WSJ, Apple’s applications are ranked at the top spot for more than 60% of basic searches for terms such as Maps.

Apps that generate Apple revenue – such as Music and Books, are ranked at the top spot for 95 percent of relevant searches.

In response, Apple has said it has conducted its own tests to see where its apps ranked in comparison to others and said that some tests yielded different results.

The company did not provide any specifics on its tests or their findings.

Speaking of the report, Apple said: “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.”

“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.”

Apple also added some more insight into the machine learning technology it uses to rank apps in the App Store, telling reporters that the algorithm works in the same way for all apps in the App Store – including any Apple-owned apps.

“Apple says it uses 42 factors to determine where apps rank in search but keeps the formula secret to maintain a level playing field for developers and prevent the manipulation of results,” said The Wall Street Journal.

“The four factors that most influence the rankings are downloads, ratings, relevance and “user behavior,” according to the company. User behavior, which Apple says is the most important factor, includes the amount of times users select an app after a query and also download it, a spokesman said.”

Apple is facing increasing scrutiny in both the US and EU, with the company facing Congress to testify on technology and competition.

In Europe, Apple Music and Apple News are in the spotlight and investigations are ongoing.

What are your thoughts? Is Apple right to favor its own apps or is it bad for competition? Let us know on Twitter using @AppleMagazine and check back soon for more updates.

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