Apple has just brought in some tweaks for its App Store, perhaps signalling the Store's natural evolution brought on by Apple's purchase of Chomp (a renowned content discovery service). The App Store now has an Editor's Choice selection along with a free App of the Week.
The App Store's biggest USP over competing stores for other platforms such as the Google Play store and the Blackberry App World has been the sheer volume of apps available to users. Unlike other mobile operating systems, iOS users are seldom left short of options when they're looking for an app to fulfill a particular need of theirs. But that has slowly started turning into a double edged sword of sorts. It has been getting harder and harder for users to find and discover new apps, beyond the usual ones in the Top Grossing and Top Free picks.
The App Store has an extremely distinct banner in its home page now, drawing users' attention to "Editor's Choice" apps (the first of which happens to be Facebook Camera for the iPhone). Later, Apple came out with a free App of the Week, and it happened to be the much awaited Cut the Rope: Experiments. This is said to be the first time Apple is actually relying on promoting apps this way, of its own accord. Cut the Rope should be the first of many new and premium apps going free in the App Store in the coming weeks.
Apple's efforts point towards making the best possible use of its Chomp purchase - it can now make great apps (that have been hitherto drowned out by competition) more visible to the public. It is also a follow up to its crackdown on bot farms that had been enticing developers to pay them in exchange for pumping up their app download numbers right into the Top picks for both paid and free apps.
Since 2009, Chomp had been one of the best app search engines for the Apple App Store, and (a couple of years) later the Android Market. The San Francisco startup's iPhone app made it phenomenally popular, with an ever-expanding user base, and huge interest from venture capital firms followed. It probably reached the pinnacle of its achievements when Apple Inc. itself decided to acquire Chomp in February this year for a reported sum of $50 million!
Chomp on an iPhone
It isn't any secret that Apple and Android are fierce rivals in the mobile device market. The latter has an infamously poor content discovery system in its Android Market (now rechristened as Google Play), and Chomp went a long way in rectifying some of its ills. Apple, rather unsurprisingly, is choosing to take that crutch away from Android by completely killing the app for the Google platform.
There had been reports of Chomp's flaky performance on Android devices in the last few weeks, as it frequently refused to connect to Chomp's servers. As it turns out, today Chomp's website has no more mentions of its Android app, and the Google Play store has absolutely no mention of Chomp either.
Apple's decision to acquire Chomp stemmed out of devs often complaining about the poor visibility of their apps in the App Store. That's right, Apple's biggest advantage - its vast, vast ecosystem for apps had inadvertently drowned out many of the lesser known developers from joining into the party, and Apple definitely wanted to keep them on their side. Plugging off the same support for its biggest competitor, Android, seemed like a logical next step to deprive Google and Android devs from any similar advantage.