The face of the app store is about to change again in iOS6.
Back in February Apple acquired Chomp, an app store search company. With the upcoming release of iOS6, Apple is about to showcase their integration of Chomps technologies. One likely result is that consumer app store search behavior will change forever.
Compare the current search results display on the left to the Chomp approach on the right.
What is special about the Chomp inspired approach are two things:
1. A card based search result interface, much larger and emphasizing screen shot previews, and with potentially more room for information about each app.
2. A new search algorithm
[/box]Footnote: iOS6 is expected to be released to the general public later this fall.
How will this change impact app store search behavior for consumers?
This change will display cards about each app, roughly 75% larger than the current display. So I think the likely change in user behavior will be driven by the fact that 2/3 fewer apps will be visible in the search result viewport, but that more visuals about each app will be included in the resulting card display. For users this will likely increase engagement and drill down with the top search results. I would also predict that the total number of apps a user browses through in search results will decrease.
The above is true for the iPad. I should also mention that the impact on the iPhone search results will be even more drastic, displaying a single card display users can swipe through a card at a time.
How will this change impact app developers and marketers?
For app developers and marketers this change will be significant. Getting into the top 25 search results will be even more important than it is already. Carefully keyword selection, as well as selecting the most compelling screenshots to entice users to check out an app in greater details will be key. But in general the opportunity to have cool screenshot displayed in the search result is good for apps and developers that have great graphic design. More challenging will be how the search algorithm will actually function.
What about the new search algorithm?
It is hard to tell exactly how this new search algorithm works. I suspect we will learn greater details about it once it is live. However, what is clear is that there are differences when comparing the results returned from an iOS5 search versus an iOS6 search.
In various Mac discussion forums some suspect at the new algorithms will emphasize popularity ratings and downloads, in favor of relevancy. The suspicion is that Apple would tweak the search results to increase sales as the primary objective. This means popular apps would get more popular, and smaller indie apps would struggle even more to be found. For indie developers this would not be good news.
However, PC Magazine Reports it differently
“… using an algorithm that learns the functions of apps, then allows users to search based on what an app does, rather than its given title.” read more…
A Stroke of Genius
I also suspect the new algorithm will play a result in driving the recently introduced Genius recommendations, which suggests other apps a user may be interested in and displays these on the bottom of the app store screen.
Watch a Video of the new UI
What do you think?
Will these changes result in app store search behavior that ultimately benefits consumers?