Tuesday, 25 February, 2020

Why Apple Apps Regularly Outrank Competitors in Search

App tweaks App store searches App tweaks App store searches
Cecil Davis | 11 September, 2019, 17:30

Apple naturally denied that it was deliberately giving its own apps any special placement over others in the App Store, but the reports clearly prompted the company to take a closer look at what was going on behind the scenes, and it seems that Apple has figured out what was triggering this behavior and is now taking steps to improve it.

When searching for Music, users would not only see Apple Music but seven other Apple-owned apps in the first ten spots including Garage Band and Voice Memos, ahead of apps such as Spotify and Amazon Music. The Times studied App Store search results (dating back several years) for common queries like "music" and "podcasts" and found that Apple regularly steered customers to a handful of its own apps - even unrelated results like Compass and Find My Friends - before getting to options from third-party developers. Apple has helped make developers billions of dollars but it has also been accused of favoring its own apps in search results to the detriment of competitors. 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. While it is obvious that the algorithm worked in Apple's favor in this case, the company has not explained how its algorithm works other than to say that it is not manually altered to benefit Apple. In July, the company turned off the algorithm from packing results with Apple apps.

The algorithm examines 42 different signals, they said, including an app's relevance to a given search, its ratings, and its popularity based on downloads and user clicks.

The App Store generated $50 billion in sales for Apple a year ago.

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This has resulted in some absurd search results. Two of those apps (iMovie and Clips) had nothing to do with music and Spotify was down to number 23.

Apple ranked first for books, music, news, podcasts. The newspaper said its analysis included rankings of more than 1,800 specific apps across 13 keywords since 2013. Eventually, Spotify came down to the fourth spot and then to the 23rd position, which led Spotify into complaining against Apple.

Macs everywhere will soon lose the ability to run hundreds of apps when they begin updating to the next version of Apple's software platform, called MacOS Catalina. However, while Cue admitted that Apple makes mistakes all the time, and Schiller added that the company is "happy to admit when we do" he also insisted that "This wasn't a mistake".

"Apple apps ranked first in over 700 tracked searches for popular search terms like "books", "music", news", "TV", "sports", and "people", according to a new report from The New York Times.