Apple is reported to have shifted major internal resources to a team looking to rejuvenate the process of searching for apps on the App Store, with the central change believed to be the introduction of sponsored results which would allow companies to pay for priorities in result rankings.
The report comes from Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources. Those sources indicate that around 100 Apple employees are thought to be working on the project, with several having shifted across from the company's iAD team, including Apple Vice President Todd Teresi.
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The introduction of paid search could be an enormous profit booster for Apple, as the huge marketing arsenals of top-iOS earners such as Supercell are trained on the new system rather than other forms of advertising and user acquisition. It certainly worked for Google, turning a near monopoly on search engine usage into a Vast revenue stream. However, it's unlikely to be a particularly helpful move for either customers or those companies whose budgets do not extend to a direct battle with the likes of the firmly entrenched games at the head of the App Store top-grossing chart.
However, Bloomberg also reports that the team is also working on other ways to improve customer experience when browsing the myriad titles on Apple's mobile storefront. These changes aren't yet known about, but it's unlikely that they'll be given priority over the potential billion-dollar business represented by paid searches. Currently, curation by teams of App Store 'Editors' gives Apple the opportunity to highlight those games and apps it feels exhibit the best qualities of its hardware and ecosystem alongside those which bring it the most money, but as anyone who has ever ventured far from the all-important front page will know, getting into the weeds of category-based browsing rapidly becomes a frustrating and relatively pointless business.
It's tempting to say that things can only improve, for customers at least, but there's a very definite feeling that developers may soon find themselves with even greater immovable financial obstacles to overcome in order to achieve truly appreciable levels of success, let alone disrupting the top ten.