According to reports by Bloomberg, Apple has impanelled a secret team to start exploring how to give the App Store its next big upgrade. Those upgrades may include a mechanism for charging developers for how prominently their apps are displayed.
The model essentially takes a page from the Google paid search Bible — firms that want their app to be featured at the top of lists can pay Apple for the privilege of such valuable placement.
All in, Apple has about 100 workers on the project, including a large swath of the engineering team from iAd — an in-house group that was already being scaled back. App Store advertising and paid search are currently being led by Apple Vice President Todd Teresi, who led iAd, according to sources.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Krishna Subramanian, cofounder of Captiv8, which helps brands market using social media. “Anything that you can do to help drive more awareness to your app, to get organic downloads, is critical.”
Apart from a more aggressive monetization strategy, the team is also reportedly exploring how to make navigating and browsing in the App Store easier and more intuitive.
Apple declined to comment.
But moves to improve its flagship App Store (home of over 90 percent of the actual revenue to be made in selling apps) are not exactly new. In 2012, Apple acquired an app search engine company named Chomp to make the store easier to search as it got more crowded. In December, CEO Tim Cook moved responsibility for the App Store to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, and away from Eddy Cue, senior vice president for Internet, software and services.
Cue’s purview expanded an awful lot with the launches of Apple Music and Apple Pay.