Before we get started
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For many years, Apple has been accused of enjoying a monopoly with its App Store, which gives it an advantage over third-party developers. For those who own iPhones and iPads, the App Store is, for all practical purposes, the only way to install apps. On top of that, Apple takes a 15-30% cut of all app revenue and subscriptions sold via the App Store. It also decides which apps are permitted, and perhaps more relevant to today’s news, it controls search results.
The situation has just become even more controversial. The Wall Street Journal issued a report this week claiming that Apple’s own mobile apps show up at the top of search results a lot more frequently than they should, which gives the company even more of an advantage over third-party apps.
According to the WSJ’s research, Apple’s in-house apps ranked at the top in more than 60% of all basic searches – for example, for everyday terms such as “maps.” Those Apple apps that create services income for the company – for example, Apple Books and Apple Music – appeared in the number one position in no less than 95% of searches that were related to those apps.
Although Apple will probably not gain much by giving preference to its own Calendar, Mail or Reminders apps, there is undoubtedly money to be gained by sending people to apps such as Apple Books, Apple Music and Apple News, all of which drive traffic to the firm’s subscription services and digital storefronts.
Apple denied the WSJ’s claims and subsequently ran its own tests. A spokesperson for the company afterwards said that “some searches yielded different results in which their apps didn’t rank first.” The company also claimed that the reason why its own apps ranked higher was that “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.”