WSJ: Apple Apps Unfairly Dominate App Store Search Results


macrumors 6502
Nov 13, 2014
I feel this is done to help those who have "deleted" the stock app from their device to find it easily and "reinstall" it.
Makes sense. Also most of Apple's apps are one-word descriptions—"Maps," "Music," "Mail," "Calendar," etc.—so the idea that they wouldn't show up first in a search for "maps," "music," etc. is ridiculous.
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macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2004
The music app is free for non Apple Music subscribers as well its where you listen to all music synced from iTunes
I get that it's free. The point is Apple's favoring their music app in search results since they offer a subscription service for it.

The more people Apple can get to use their music app, the more opportunities there are to get them to subscribe.

Well I get different results, Apple Music is never ranked first.
Maybe because you're in Sweden. Different laws (pro competition?) in EU vs in the U.S.
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macrumors 6502a
Jul 1, 2010
When app developers can pick and choose where,when, how they can sell apps, then these cases go away. Vendors are locked into a singular place to market and are handcuffed by apples rules.
They can. It's call The Internet. Apple supported web apps even before it had an app store, and it still supports web apps. The main point of participating in the app store is for the huge benefits Apple provides you (payment processing, free servers, analytics, visibility). WSJ is endorsing the ChoosingBeggar mentality. Devs receive this amazing set of features for basically free and then whine that these handouts aren't even better. If devs want their apps to beat out Apple's, they should make superior apps. There are plenty of popular apps successfully competing against Apple's in the app store.


macrumors regular
May 29, 2019
Well if I search 'Spotify' it shows me just that. Followed by Spotify for Artists and many other apps like Deezer, Amazon Music, SoundCloud, Youtoube Music etc. Apple Music is ranked 16th.

View attachment 849588
I just did it again and the first entry is Starbucks, next is SoundCloud, then Apple Music, and finally Spotify and Spotify for Artists. Seems to me though a proper search engine should return the thing I searched for first.

Jimmy James

macrumors 601
Oct 26, 2008


Is the WSJ asking other competing news services/publications to write articles for them like Apple wants app developers to write apps for the Apple App Store? No.
Talking about developer activity on competing platforms is a distraction from the actual discussion.

WSJ seems to be implying that Apple shouldn’t be featuring their own products. And that’s what we’re dealing with both in terms of apps or the news article analogy. Products. And WSJ is featuring their own, as you would expect. As is Apple.

It’s Apples for apples, if you will.


macrumors 6502
Jan 13, 2014
There is a big difference between Amazon and App Store. Every Amazon seller can also sell their products elsewhere including directly to the customer. When iOS apps can be sold/distributed directly to iPhone owners bypassing App Store, you might start using your analogy.
Yes. But, they cannot sell to “amazon’s customers” through another channel or directly without paying the amazon fees. The point of selling on amazon is the HUGE customer base. If sellers have a problem with Amazon’s tactics they can sell elsewhere or directly yes. But, they then don’t have access to amazon’s customer base. And that’s the whole point.

Similarly, if you want to sell to customers who walk into Walmart stores you have to pay Walmart a cut and play by their rules. You can’t put up shop inside a Walmart and sell directly to their “customer base” without paying Walmart. And if you stick with them you play by “their rules”.

Similarly, developers can sell their apps on google play. If they want access to the iOS user base then there’s apple’s rules.

Hope business is now clear to you.


macrumors 6502a
Apr 7, 2015
There’s only one app in the App Store called Maps. Hence, when you search “maps”, that comes up first. Wow the retardation is strong in this WSJ hit piece
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macrumors regular
Nov 8, 2015

Apple's mobile apps are often first in App Store search results ahead of competitors, according to a new analysis done by The Wall Street Journal.

For basic searches like "maps," Apple's apps ranked first more than 60 percent of the time in the WSJ's testing. Apps that generate revenue like Music or Books showed up first in 95 percent of related searches.

Apple, in response to questioning from the Wall Street Journal, did its own testing and said that it had different results where its apps didn't rank first.

Apple says that it uses an algorithm that uses machine learning and past consumer preferences, leading to app rankings that often fluctuate. Apple suggested that its apps ranked first in the WSJ's testing because those apps are popular with consumers. Apple says that all apps are subjected to the same search algorithm, including its own.Many of the Apple apps in the App Store are installed by default on iPhones and iPads, though they can now be deleted if desired. Having them available in the App Store lets customers who have deleted them restore them when needed.

In one example, the WSJ highlights the audiobooks search category. The top spot was held by for two years before it was unseated by the Apple Books app last September, which led to a 25 percent decline in's daily app downloads. Apple Books ranks first for audiobooks, books, and reader searches, leading the audiobooks category because of "user behavior data" and the "audiobooks" keyword, says Apple.

Similarly, Apple Maps ranks first in a search for "maps," while the TV app and the iTunes Store come up first in searches for keywords like "tv," "movies," and "videos."

The Wall Street Journal suggests that Apple's App Store dominance gives Apple an upper hand, especially as many default apps are not held to the same standards that third party apps are required to adhere to. Many Apple apps, for example, do not feature reviews or ratings, which is one of the factors that influence search results along with downloads.

There are a total of 42 factors used to determine where apps rank in search, but the factors with the most influence are downloads, ratings, relevance, and user behavior. User behavior includes the number of times that users select an app after a search and then go on to download it, according to Apple.

Apple is facing legal battles over its App Store policies. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that a lawsuit accusing Apple of anticompetitive behavior for requiring apps to be sold through the App Store could continue, and the European Commission has asked Apple for answers after Spotify accused it of anticompetitive App Store business practices related to the fee that Apple collects from app developers.

The Wall Street Journal's full report on Apple's App Store search rankings can be read over on the WSJ website.

Article Link: WSJ: Apple Apps Unfairly Dominate App Store Search Results
If I type in Wall Street Journal. Guess what? The WSJ website comes up first. Please. This is stupid.


macrumors regular
Jul 2, 2009
Not that I agree with the WSJ assessment... but your analogy. It's terrible and wrong. Walmart does not feature it's own products in store. They feature branded products more prominently. Most stores feature the branded products.
Walmart is paid by the brands to display their products.


macrumors regular
Aug 19, 2003
Santa Cruz, CA
Breaking: Wall Street Journal Staff Writers Articles Unfairly Dominate Freelance Journalist Contributions!

An independent third-party review of both the WSJ's online and offline editions shows that staff writers and editors content dominates not only the front page but the whole publication whereas freelance contributors' content appeared on the front page in less than 1% of WSJ editions. Additionally, research revealed WSJ staff content dominates internal site search results of the online edition. In breaking news the WSJ says it's their paper and they are free to determine which content is featured on their front page and anywhere else in their publications any damn way they please.

When contacted to determine how this wasn't relevant to their coverage of Apple and its wholly-owned app store they declined to comment.


macrumors 68000
Jul 31, 2011

Did you read what the WSJ article is about? It's about Apple favoring their own apps (particular apps that Apple makes money with through their subscription services) above other competitors. And as I've shown, the WSJ's findings are true because my search result for "music" favored Apple's Apple Music subscription service over others by listing it 1st.

Apple gives their spreadsheet app, Numbers, away for free. There is no subscription service with it like there is with Apple Music or Apple News+ which is the 1st/top listed result when I search for "magazine"
You searched for the name of the app. Just because it's also the genre doesn't change what you did.

Also, Numbers is a subscriptions service. It only syncs with iCloud - a paid service.
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macrumors regular
Mar 4, 2006
Not that I agree with the WSJ assessment... but your analogy. It's terrible and wrong. Walmart does not feature it's own products in store. They feature branded products more prominently. Most stores feature the branded products.
They do feature branded products and they charge those companies quite heftily for the placement of those products. The rent on the walls and shelves of most stores is not cheap to the manufacturers.