Apple’s mobile apps routinely appear first in search results ahead of competitors in its App Store, a powerful advantage that skirts some of the company’s rules on such rankings, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
The company’s apps ranked first in more than 60% of basic searches, such as for “maps,” the analysis showed. Apple apps that generate revenue through subscriptions or sales, like Music or Books, showed up first in 95% of searches related to those apps.
This dominance gives the company an upper hand in a marketplace that generates $50 billion in annual spending. Services revenue linked to the performance of apps is at the center of Apple’s strategy to diversify its profits as iPhone sales wane.
This should surprise absolutely nobody. Apple has a lot riding on becoming a successful services company, and it’s doing a lot of sleazy things already to try and convert iPhone buyers into wallets on legs from whom Cupertino can siphon monthly amounts. It’s only natural that the company would use its Appe Store search engine to promote its own services – something that will surely turn some heads in Europe.
The article also has this fascinating little tidbit:
Phillip Shoemaker, who led the App Store review process until 2016, said Apple executives were aware of Podcasts’ poor ratings. Around 2015, his team proposed to senior executives that it purge all apps rated lower than two stars to ensure overall quality.
“That would kill our Podcasts app,” an Apple executive said, according to Mr. Shoemaker, who has advised some independent apps on the App Store review process since leaving Apple. The proposal was eventually rejected, Mr. Shoemaker said.
So Apple pondered purging all apps with two stars or lower from the App Store… Only to realise a number of its own apps would be purged, too. Oh and in what I’m sure is entirely unrelated, many Apple apps inside the App Store no longer show a rating at all – special treatment only Apple apps get.
If even 50% of this story is true, antitrust lawyers and investigators are going to have a field day with this.