A new Wall Street Journal report alleges that Apple consistently favors its apps ahead of the competition in App Store listings. This emerged just months after a related antitrust controversy. In April, Dutch investigators looked into Spotify’s complaint that Apple favored Apple Music in the App Store over Spotify. Apple might be facing antitrust scrutiny in the US, too.
According to WSJ, App Store searches gave the top spot to Apple for basic searches like “maps.” This was the case even when competing offerings, like the Kindle app are immensely popular. The Verge found that, while Apple’s Books app ranked 168th in popularity in the Books category, it was displayed ahead of Kindle in search results. This is despite Kindle being the 3rd most popular app in the Books category.
Apple has a History of Preferring Its Own Apps in the App Store
This isn’t the first time that Apple’s own apps have been given preferential treatment. The WSJ report goes on to quote Phillip Shoemaker. Until 2016, Shoemaker was the leader for the App Store’s review process. He said that his team suggested removing all apps with less than a two-star rating from the App Store to ensure quality. However, they decided against this because Apple’s own Podcasts app was rated less than two stars.
Apple Insider conducted their own tests to confirm the WSJ allegations. They seem to have come to a completely different conclusion, though. This is what they said:
“Using our three devices, apps other than Apple’s apps filled the spot below the search ad in 56 of 60 of our searches, and two spots below the search ad in 48 of the 56 searches that didn’t have an Apple app in the top spot.”
Apple also made a formal statement regarding the issue. The following is a brief part of it:
“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.”
All in all, these reports appear to be conflicting. Some sources clearly show the App Store preferring Apple apps while others show all players getting a fair shot. Do you think Apple is manipulating App Store rankings? Let us know.