Published: Wed, September 11, 2019
Tech | By

Apple alters search algorithms to deliver fewer of its own apps

Apple alters search algorithms to deliver fewer of its own apps

But the two executives now say that Apple has adjusted the algorithms so that its own apps don't appear so often at the top of App Store search results. In July, the company turned off the algorithm from packing results with Apple apps. In May, the Supreme Court voted to allow a class action lawsuit against the company, suggesting that the App Store rules represented a monopoly. In March, Spotify made an official complaint to European competition regulators with allegations that Apple is taking advantage of its position as app gatekeeper.

When someone searched for "Music" the app would default to Apple Music because users clicked on it so frequently.

The App Store generated more than $50 billion a year ago, and two-thirds of downloads started with a search, Apple says. "There's nothing about the way we run search in the App Store that's designed or meant to drive Apple's downloads of our own apps", Phil Schiller, the Apple vice president who oversees the App Store, said in an interview on the subject. Many of Apple's titles quickly dropped in search rankings, with fewer titles being presented in the top results. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Apple employees have a better idea of how the search engine works, although the best practices for creating an App Store listing are publicly available to anyone. 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.


According to the Times, Apple apps have recently ranked first for at least 700 search terms. The company said part of the reason its own apps ranked at the top is that the search algorithms give preference to apps already installed on the device. For example, if you searched for "podcast", the App Store would show Apple's Podcasts app, but it would then show several more Apple apps-Compass and Find My Friends, for example-that had nothing to do with podcasting before surfacing rival podcasting apps.

The App Store generated $50 billion in sales for Apple past year. The article notes that App Store search results have become some of the most valuable online advertisement real estate with the app store generating more than $50 billion in sales a year ago.

The majority of our digital media time is now spent on mobile, and most of that with a small number of apps. "It's not corrected", said Schiller. It has certainly been that: Apple says developers have raked in over $120 billion in digital sales. The odds that Apple intentionally chose its apps to rank first is highly unlikely. "It's improved", added Eddy Cue, who ran the App Store before Schiller took over those duties.

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