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To get your app to the top of the App Store’s search results is something that any app developer would give an arm and a leg for.
The store generated sales of over $50bn in 2018, and Apple says about two-thirds of all downloads start with a search.
The fact that Apple has become one of the biggest players on a platform that is fully under its control has raised many eyebrows and resulted in various antitrust cases in the US, Russia and Europe.
A new study commissioned by the New York Times shows that Apple’s own apps appeared in the number one spot for at least 700 search terms over a period of six years.
In a number of searches, Apple’s own apps occupied as many as the first 14 positions.
Confronted with the results, two senior Apple executives conceded that the firm’s own apps have been taking up many of the top search results for common terms for over a year.
This was true even though the Apple apps were not particularly popular or completely relevant to the search terms.
They said that the firm has since “adjusted the algorithm.”
The New York Times study clearly shows the power that tech companies have to benefit themselves at the expense of competitors on search platforms.
Firms such as Apple often blame the algorithms when there are problems, but they write these algorithms and they won’t reveal exactly how they work.
The two Apple executives insisted that the algorithm that controls search results was totally above board.
They claimed that Apple’s apps did so well in searches because they were so popular and they had generic names that matched everyday search terms.
Philip Schiller, the company’s senior vice president in charge of the App Store, claimed: “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.”