You know what? I never considered that. You're right, the probability of Apple misuing the software locks that have on our devices to push near-irrevocable updates that slow us down, something that is completely within their power and they would actually have to expend effort not to do, is approximately equal to the probability of Google predicting that someone would write an article like this and pre-emptively messing with their search algorithms, just on the off-chance that somebody might do a study like this.
Every Apple defender should remember, when talking about Google. Apple might have verified near-total control of your device, and it might be plainly obvious to them how they could abuse it, but you should trust them blindly not to, because they are just that trustworthy. Apple has your best interests at heart.
On the other hand, you should NOT trust Google blindly because maybe they are messing with searches they have no idea who is going to perform or why. Google might be psychic and be able to tell in advance what kinds of articles people are going to write and mess with search algorithms to throw them off. The mere outside chance possibility of this is enough because Google obviously does not have your best interests at heart.
You see, it's all about trust. When you have trust in a company, you will let them in your underwear. When you don't, you don't even want their car in your neighbourhood.