Apple exploring paid-search for the App Store

Adam Satariano and Alex Webb, Bloomberg (via. John Gruber):

[…] Apple is considering paid search, a Google-like model in which companies would pay to have their app shown at the top of search results based on what a customer is seeking. For instance, a game developer could pay to have its program shown when somebody looks for “football game,” “word puzzle” or “blackjack.”

Paid search, which Google turned into a multibillion-dollar business, would give Apple a new way to make money from the App Store.

John adds:

The one and only thing Apple should do with App Store search is make it more accurate. […] It’s downright embarrassing that App Store search is still so bad. Google web search is better for searching Apple’s App Store than the App Store’s built-in search. That’s the problem Apple needs to address.

I have a bone to pick with the search folk at Apple. They almost never spell-check. It’s curious: Search the App Store for ‘Facebool’ and the top two results are the Facebook app and their Messenger app. Search ‘Fantasticak’ and you have nothing. Apple Music is worse since song names aren’t always spelt the right way.

John mentions Google offering better search for App Store apps than the App Store. I tried looking for Ulysses, the app where I’m typing this, on DuckDuckGo 1 by misspelling it as ‘Ulyseas app’ ( ‘app’ added to avoid ambiguity with Ulysses the novel) and the first result is Ulysses’ website, second is the iTunes link. Searching for ‘Ulyseas’ on the App Store returns squat2 . Even DuckDuckGo is better at searching App Store apps than the App Store. (Here’s the screenshots for convenience: DuckDuckGoApp Store)

Apple ran a video at WWDC last year called The App Effect. In it, Apple tries to deliver the message that the App Store is a platform that gives big companies and one-man-shows a level playing field. Case in point, the video at 1 minute, 46 seconds has Instagram’s CEO saying ‘You know it’s a testament that two guys in a room working on an idea can launch an app and instantly have hundreds and millions of people very quickly’.

I really hope Apple sees value in fixing the App Store before thinking of ways to squeeze more money out of it.


1. I support DuckDuckGo completely and it’s the default search engine on my iPhone but Google’s search is unparalleled. Hence I picked an ‘inferior’ search engine to make my point.

2.  Not the first ‘s’-word I was going to go with. Hint: the word rhymes with ‘search-hit’

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka