Apple execs told the Times that the company’s apps show up so frequently in searches not because it tips the scales but because its apps are already very popular and are designed to please consumers. But that logic is in itself concerning: A company with nearly unparalleled power and insight into what consumers are looking for in terms of apps uses its understanding of consumer desire and vast resources to create apps that will defeat rivals (especially startups or young companies) in the App Store it owns. Even if there is no foul algorithmic play, the competitive advantage is clear. The question is whether it’s enough for antitrust action.
The California Attorney General’s office has struck a deal with Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research in Motion in which the companies will require mobile app developers to post privacy policies. This means that many hyperlocal apps that use location data may be required to provide privacy information.