Antitrust Concerns Prompt Apple To Change App Store Search 

Antitrust, Apple, App Store, Search 

Search results in the Apple App Store will no longer feature Apple’s own apps first, The New York Times reported on Monday (Sept. 9). 

Competitors raised antitrust concerns with global regulators, sources told the newspaper. The sources said they stopped the App Store search algorithm from stacking results with Apple-made apps in July. 

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller and Senior Vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue told the news outlet the “change was not made to fix a mistake. Rather, it was simply a decision to help developers at Apple’s expense.”

Apple’s own apps come up higher in search due to popularity and generic names, Schiller and Cue said in the report. Prior to the change, the executives said, “the algorithm sometimes grouped apps by their developer, causing Apple apps to fill some top search results.”

In May, the Supreme Court ruled that an antitrust lawsuit over Apple’s App Store practices can move forward. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, rejected Apple’s argument that consumers can’t sue the company because the prices of apps in the App Store are set by developers, not by Apple. Plaintiffs, who are suing on behalf of app purchasers, contended that consumers have to pay increased app prices due to Apple’s rule that all software for its mobile devices must be purchased through the App Store. The suit argues that if developers were able to sell the apps directly to consumers without the middleman, consumers would pay less. The European Union is also looking into possible antitrust violations by Apple.

“If accepted, Apple’s theory would provide a roadmap for monopolistic retailers to structure transactions with manufacturers or suppliers so as to evade antitrust claims by consumers and thereby thwart effective antitrust enforcement,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote in a 14-page opinion. Kavanaugh was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.


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