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Apple dominates search results in the App Store, overcoming competitors
usually appear first in search results for their competitors in the App Store, a powerful advantage that removes some of the company's rules for such rankings, Wall Street analysis Journal
The company's applications ranks first in more than 60% of core searches, such as "cards," the analysis shows. Apple apps that generate revenue through subscriptions or sales, such as music or books, appear first in 95% of searches related to these apps.
This dominance gives the company a market dominance that generates $ 50 billion in annual spending. Revenue from application-related services is at the heart of Apple's profit-diversifying strategy as iPhone sales.
Although many of Apple's products are undoubtedly popular, they behave differently from the App Store. Apple tells developers that downloads, consumer reviews, and ratings are factors that affect search results. Yet more than two dozen Apple apps come pre-installed on the iPhone and are protected from reviews and ratings.
Apple says it does not give its own products an edge over others in the App Store. The company conducted its own tests this month in response to newspaper issues, and some searches gave different results in which their applications did not rank first, a spokesman said. The company uses an algorithm that relies on machine learning and user preferences, and application rankings vary. Apple does not reveal details of how they work.
Apple's own apps dominate the search rankings in many categories where they compete in the App Store, as seen in the search for "music, maps," and others over the past year, according to App Annie, a third party analytical firm
"Apple's customers have a very strong connection with our products, and many use search as a way to find and open their applications," Apple said in a statement. "This customer use is the reason why Apple has strong search rankings, and that's the same reason that Uber, Microsoft and many others often have high rankings."
Technological companies have long faced with regulatory control over the way they use their software platforms to promote their other products or to expand the scope of new businesses.
Google was sanctioned by regulators for that reason.
"When you become large and widespread, the promotion of personal interest is contrary to antitrust laws," said David Jofie, Harvard University Business Professor and co-author of the book Business Platforms.
Complaining competing self-advocacy companies helps counter the technology giants. Companies are trying to dispel the fears in Washington and Europe that technological giants have too quickly concentrated economic power to the detriment of smaller businesses.
On July 1
6, Apple and three other heavy-duty companies were questioned by members of the Judiciary Commission. for the power of online platforms. Politicians on both sides have demanded stricter control.
A day later EU regulators announced an antitrust inspection
that it will investigate whether the e-commerce giant is abusing its dual role as a seller of its own products and a market operator.
Legal challenges are growing in the App Store. The US Supreme Court ruled in May over Apple's attempt to stop the case, claiming that consumers are forced to buy apps exclusively from the company. Two application developers are also suing at a federal court, claiming the App Store is a monopoly on distribution. The company earlier declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Technology Spotify SA
in March, filed an antitrust appeal against Apple in Europe, claiming Apple had made it difficult for competing subscription services to be sold in the App Store, which the company denies.
Apple says it uses 42 factors to determine where applications are ranked in demand but retains the formula's secret to maintain a level playing field for developers and prevent manipulation of results.
The four factors that have the biggest influence on the ranking are downloads, ratings, relevance and "consumer behavior," according to the company. The user behavior that Apple says is the most important factor includes the number of times users choose an application after a request and also download it, a spokesman said.
Apple's search results can either make or break an application. The company claims that searches account for 65% of all app downloads. There are more than 900 million in the world.
Above the competition
WSJ tested about 40 apps on Apple, watching how they ranked in the App Store. With six iPhone, the newspaper searches with three popular keywords for each category of apps to check if the Apple app appears first. For the music category, for example, WSJ searches for "music," "songs," and "playlist."
Number of apps in Apple that ranked first:
Audiobooks.com, a company of RBmedia, has largely ranked first in demand in App Store's audio books for almost two years. Then, in September last year, it was removed from Apple Books. Apple's app just barely started releasing its audio books for the first time.
"It was literally overnight," says Ian Malak, general manager of Audiobooks.com. He said the change resulted in a 25% drop in daily downloads of Audiobooks.com apps. At that time, the app had 35,000 customer reviews and 4.8 out of the 5-Star App Store. The pre-installed app of Apple Books, with no comments or ratings, has been the top spot in the search for "audio books" ever since. It also ranks first in the search for "books" and "reader".
Apple says number 1 for Books in "books" search is reasonable, as it is an exact match name. The app is also the first "audiobook" because of "user behavior data" and the inclusion of "audio books" as a keyword related to the application, a spokesman said.
Apple's role as the creator of the App Store's search engine, and the recipient of the results, has arranged developers. They argue that Apple essentially retains its application # 1, forcing anyone looking for alternatives to first look at Apple apps. Such tactics would help preserve loyalty to Apple's mobile operating system – a key to future iPhone sales – and encourage the use of revenue-generating applications such as Apple TV and News, say developers.
"This is definitely unfair," said Sam Liang, a co-founder of the Otter Voice Meeting Notes, live transcription application that compete with Apple Voice Notes. "People always look at the first, I think it's the best."
Almost a year and a half after releasing the Otter Voice Recorder, Mr Liang's Calling and Calling service has won more than 2000 5-star reviews and is called the App of the Day but is not missed the Top 50 in the search for a "voice recorder," according to App Annie.
Otter has paid Apple tens of thousands of dollars to advertise his app for voice and voice recorder, said Mr. Liang. Marketing costs help the surface of transcription before Apple's voice notes, but it also means the company has less money to hire artificial intelligence experts to improve the product.
"I hope that at the end of the day, the best product will win for accuracy because of innovation," said Mr. Liang. "We want to invest more in this aspect, but instead of hiring two more PhD students, we need to use that money to get higher."
– Abigail Summerville contributed to this article.