Report: Apple might charge developers for App Store search placement

This is guaranteed to cause controversy.

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Get ready for some controversy: According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is considering big changes for the iOS App Store, including paid search results a la Google.

That means developers who want to be surfaced to the top of the App Store’s search results for specific keywords would have to pay for the privilege.

That’s just one of the App Store revenue opportunities that Apple is reportedly considering. The company has put together a 100-person “secret” team—isn’t it always a secret?—made up of the remnants of its folding iAd department.

Apple already makes a healthy amount of money with the 30 percent cut it takes from App Store sales. There are more than 1.5 million apps in the store right now with more than 100 billion downloads since the store’s launch in 2008. But searching the App Store is abysmal. Apple has reportedly made some tweaks to search in recent months, and the company in December moved App Store responsibility from Eddy Cue, senior VP of software and services, to Phil Schiller, senior VP of marketing.

But will paid search help iPhone and iPad users find apps more easily, or is it just another way for Apple to make money? The company is already taking criticism over the reported plan, with Daring Fireball’s John Gruber calling it a “terrible idea.”

“It’s downright embarrassing that App Store search is still so bad,” Gruber wrote. “Google web search is better for searching Apple’s App Store than the App Store’s built-in search. That’s the problem Apple needs to address.”

Developers, we want to hear from you. Is App Store search really that bad? Would you pay for better placement in search results? Let us know in the comments.

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