Search and discovery have both been longtime major pain points of Apple’s App Store on iOS. We’ve seen some tweaks and improvements over time, but now it sounds like Apple is growing more determined to rework the way iPhone and iPad users find and install apps. Bloomberg reports that around 100 Apple employees are working to “explore changes to the App Store,” including one particular change that could prove rather controversial.
According to the report, Apple is considering a paid search model, where developers would be able to pay to have their apps and games ranked higher in search results. Google already does this on Android, where it most often applies in the gaming category. Searching for “card game” or “action game” will show an advertised title ahead of other results, like so:
The “secret team” is being led by Todd Teresi, an Apple executive who led iAd before the company decided to step away from the advertising business. Now, Teresi and many of his former iAd underlings are working on the App Store project. Last December, it was announced that Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of marketing, would be expanding his responsibilities to include oversight of the company’s App Store. Eddy Cue, who leads the services division, had been in charge for years beforehand.
So this could be a Schiller-led change, as Bloomberg claims the team only began its work fairly recently and “it’s unclear when any new changes will be introduced.” The most likely target is always Apple’s WWDC event in June, but there’s no telling what this “secret” unit will have come up with by then. Apple has taken steps — and pulled out its checkbook — to fix search in the App Store over the years, acquiring a company called Chomp in 2012 to improve discovery.