Apple Planning Paid Search Placement on App Stores

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple plans to revamp App Store searching to include paid search placement.

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.

As Bloomberg points out:

Paid search, which Google turned into a multibillion-dollar business, would give Apple a new way to make money from the App Store. The growing marketing budgets of app developers such as “Clash of Clans” maker Supercell Oy have proven to be lucrative sources of revenue for Internet companies, including Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.

So, if I search the app store for, say, “task manager,” I’ll see Clash of Clans. If I search for “fitness tracker,” I’ll see Clash of Clans.

Apple has done some dumb things in the company’s history, but this stands out as particularly stupid. Let’s be honest; Apple really doesn’t need the money that they’d be making from paid search placement, and all this will do is make the customer experience worse. It’s already very hard to find anything on the App Store, since Apple is so lenient about clones, and about apps using misleading keywords in their names and descriptions. Adding paid search will turn the App Store into a random morass of crap.

Not that many people download apps; many iOS device users are very happy with the stock apps, plus a few (for them) essentials, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others. If this is an attempt to get people to buy more apps, I can’t imagine it will sway those users. If it’s an attempt to lure regular App Store users toward lucrative in-app-purchase-scam apps, then Apple is treating their users like cash cows, something the company only does regarding its own products.

Either way, this is simply the wrong thing for Apple to do.