July 25, 2021

embarrassing email confirms abuse of dominance on the App Store

New episode in the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple: a compromising email has just surfaced. An employee of the firm admits that Apple has manipulated the ranking of the App Store to highlight its own applications.

Credit: Unsplash

Apple’s anti-competitive practices on the App Store have been under fire for several years. In 2019, two in-depth investigations by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal showed that the App Store ranked Apple apps consistently above competing apps.

Apple then replied that such manipulation is impossible: the positions on the App Store would indeed be the result of a secret algorithm containing 42 different variables, and to believe the firm, the placement of its applications was quite conforms to this algorithm, and Apple would have absolutely nothing to reproach itself with.

Epic Games email proves Apple tampered with App Store search results

An assertion undermined by a compromising email which has just surfaced on the sidelines of the Epic Games vs Apple lawsuit. The CEO of Epic Games Tim Sweeney, whose company was still a partner of Apple, had decided to confront the firm around the ranking of some of its applications on the App Store.

It was particularly about theApple’s Files application, which for 11 months was at the top of the App Store’s results for the “Dropbox” request which has a priori however nothing to do. Tim Sweeney explains: “Dropbox wasn’t even on the first page of results anymore”. In an embarrassing email dated May 2018, Debankur Naskar, one of the App Store placement managers, half-acknowledged manipulation of the results.

“I think the Files app was manually boosted to the top of the search results for ‘Dropbox’ on the sidelines of the last WWDC [2017, ndlr]. We are in the process of removing this manual boost and the search results should be more relevant now. […] the quality of some of our keywords in our own applications is not always very good and that is why our search results are impacted. We are currently carrying out an audit to clean them ”, explains the manager.

Apple claims that this story was just a regrettable mistake. According to the firm, the Files application had a Dropbox integration, suddenly, the Apple teams mistakenly added the Dropbox keyword which automatically placed the Files application above Dropbox in the App Store. . Still, no one within the Apple teams noted any problem for 11 months …

Source : The Verge