Apple considers paid search, placement on App Store

Apple Inc. has constructed a secret team to explore changes to the App Store, including a new strategy for charging developers to have their apps more prominently displayed, according to people familiar with the plans.

Among the ideas being pursued, 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.”

I’ll be honest, this seems like a very un-Apple thing to do. This will only widen the gap of small developers having any chance of being fairly featured on the App Store, and that gap is pretty large already.

  • Mo


  • Actually doing this would require compromises that are not in Apple’s nature. I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually deny this.

    • StruckPaper

      I agree that this is not in Apple’s nature.

      But a lot of rumormongers don’t appreciate is that at the beginning of a project, it makes sense to enumerate all possibilities, itemize pros and cons, and choose rationally.

      Just because a bad idea is discussed does not mean it is being considered for adoption.

      • rogifan

        It’s not in Apple’s nature but last earnings call Cook and the CFO made this big pitch about how Apple was really a services company (which they probably did because the iPhone narrative wasn’t great). Now they’re on the hook to show services revenue growth. This is one way to accomplish that. Note the story said the head of iAd was leading this team.

        I’m hoping someone in Apple leaked this in the hope that there will be a public outcry and it doesn’t go anywhere.

      • Yes, this is absolutely true. For a company the size of Apple not putting enough resources in to consider this would be imprudent.

        But how far it goes and the outcome of the idea is another matter. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see this and maybe a few other ideas like it be considered before Apple writes into their corporate DNA at the paperwork level that they will not do this.

    • Mo

      It seems to me more as if this is something Bloomberg wishes Apple would do.

  • Tom_P

    When what you want is money, not user experience…

  • tylernol

    yeah no thanks. It already seems pretty geared towards the big-budgeted players out there who astro-turf downloads and reviews. It is hard enough for a small developer like me to get any traction on the app store.

  • djr12

    Full credit for finding an idea that would make search more abysmal than it already is, which is pretty hard to do.

    It’s actually mind-boggling how bad Apple is at search. They would do better on the App Stores if they literally just searched on text string matches to titles (which at least would end the frustration of typing the exact title of an app and not seeing it in the results). And they would do better on Maps search if they simply showed you the closest result that matched. When I’m searching for a common term from a location in California, why in the name of Steve Jobs would the first hit be somewhere in Scotland?

  • Wibble

    Worst thing they can do.

    In app payments have already destroyed the system with shitty games taking over from valuable additions. Paid search would turn it into Google.