A slew of news stories published today questioned whether Google search was lowering the ranking of iTunes apps in query results, but the Web giant says it was actually just having technical issues.
"We've been having some issues fetching pages from the iTunes Web servers, and as a result some people may have had problems finding iTunes apps in search easily," a Google spokesperson told CNET. "We're working with the team there to ensure search users can find what they're looking for."
It seems the issue was first noticed by Appsfire co-founder Ouriel Ohayon, who posted a note on Facebook earlier today explaining how he couldn't find the iTunes page for his WhatsApp app in Google's top search results.
"Something really weird start [sic] to happen on google. It has become impossible to find iPhone and iPad apps looking for them in the search engine with a normal query," Ohayon wrote. "What happened? Google playing games?"
Several tech news sources looked into Ohayon's complaint and realized it wasn't only WhatsApp that was having query issues, but that several iTunes app pages weren't being listed at the top of Google search results. After much speculation about whether Google was playing a nasty trick on Apple, the Web giant said the whole thing was just a technical blip.
As of this writing, a Google search for "WhatsApp app for iPhone" is still not bringing up Apple's App Store within the first page of search results.
Updated April 3 at 10:30 a.m. PT with comment from Google spokesperson.