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Apple has assembled a “secret team” of engineers to figure out ways to improve the increasingly overcrowded App Store – including potentially charging developers to have their apps listed first in search, Bloomberg reports.
Intriguingly, that team is reportedly 100 engineers or so strong, with many of them retasked from Apple’s iAd advertising division, which has fallen out of favor with the company.
If that team’s plan becomes reality, it means that when you search for, say, “fun games” in the App Store, the first search results you see will be paid-for advertisements. It sounds similar to how Google places paid ads first for search results, particularly for local businesses.
For Apple, this could solve two birds with one stone: It can be overwhelming for users to find the apps they’re looking for, given that there are 1.5 million-plus apps on display in the App Store. This could help guide people towards specific apps, while simultaneously turning into a potentially lucrative revenue stream for Apple.
But for developers, many of whom already shell out lots of cash to attract new App Store downloads, it could turn into a major headache. It means that the App Store would favor those developers who can pony up the cash up front to appear first in search results.
It’s unclear when, if at all, these changes will show up. Still, this team’s existence shows Apple is aware that something has to change in the App Store, for the sake of customers and developers alike.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.