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Apple accused of ‘dominating’ App Store search to damage competition

Apple has issued a strenuous denial it uses the App Store to prioritise its own services over the competition, following an investigation from the Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ found that Apple’s apps sat at the top of the 60% of all categories, often sitting above better reviewed apps from the likes of Apple and Google.

When it comes to subscriptions Apple sells for music or books, for example, the WSJ says Apple apps shows up first in 95% of related searches.

The report says the investigation carried out by a pair of WSJ analysts, proves that apple “skirts some of the company’s rules on rankings” (via The Verge).

Apple has come out fighting against the report, saying a total of 42 factors are considered when it is ranking the results. One of those is “user behaviour data” along with name matches. The company said it is keeping its algorithm secret to prevent third-party developers looking to game the system.

Related: Apple Music vs Spotify

So effectively, even is manipulating the results to put its own products at the top of the rankings, the company could hide behind its algorithms. Interestingly, the company appeared to suggest that users searching for apps in the iOS Spotlight search tool also boosts their App Store ranking.

“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,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

“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.”

Apple is currently facing allegations from Spotify over the perceived unfairness of the company’s so called ‘tax’ on subscriptions through iTunes. European regulators are currently considering whether to take action on an anti-trust complaint from the company.

However, the allegations that Apple gives its own apps more credence in search results could perhaps have greater consequences. There’s previous here. Google was slapped with a multi-billion dollar fine for from the EU because it determined the company was using Google Search to promote its other services over the competition.

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