Chomp could be described as a search engine for iPhone apps (and eventually other apps stores). It’s a two-month old iPhone app and more recently a website, which resembles Twitter, whose objective is to enable people to more easily discover and review iPhone apps.
The proliferation of 160,000 iPhone apps has created the well-documented problem of app discovery for consumers and app marketing for developers. Getting attention as an iPhone app has become increasingly difficult as the iTunes app store has mushroomed.
Enter Chomp, co-founded by mobile entrepreneur and former Aardvark advisor Ben Keighran.
Keighran told me that in just over eight weeks since launch Chomp has 300,000 users who are actively engaged in writing reviews on the app and now the recently launched site. Rather than describe Chomp as a search engine per se, Keighran uses the analogy “Yelp for the app store.”
The site makes 5 percent affiliate revenue off paid app referrals it drives to Apple. That represents real money as the community grows, considering that app sales is already a billion dollar business. Otherwise there is no advertising or sponsorships on the site. It’s purely about the community and their reviews.
Keighran told me that Chomp is making money already because it’s become so viral so quickly. And iPhone app developers have become aware that Chomp can be an effective way to “market” their apps. Keighran cited the popular mobile-location game MyTown’s use of Chomp as a success story.
Because of developer demand, Chomp has launched a developer marketing tool it calls Chomp Connect:
It allows developers to add a Chomp button or review form to direct users to the Chomp site/app to review their apps — kind of like a tweet or Facebook button for viral exposure. However Chomp reviews only show up on the Chomp site, not in iTunes. The flaw in the existing iTunes review system is that users are only prompted to review apps when they’re uninstalling them, which creates a “negative bias” according to Keighran.
Chomp Connect gives developers more control and enables them to target users who are favorably disposed toward their apps.
I asked Keighran if developers had approached him about paying for sponsorships or advertising on Chomp otherwise. He said yes but his primary focus on the site or app is on the consumer experience. But Keighran said they were considering a sponsored search model as a possibility at some point in the future.
Beyond the utility of enabling consumers to discover apps and providing developers with alternative ways to expose their apps — there are a number of third party app discovery tools and sites — the thing that’s striking to me is the alignment of interests here. Often online businesses that appeal to consumers struggle to find a viable business model or one that scales or sometimes there’s tension between the consumer and advertiser experiences. (Yelp is a high profile example of the latter.)
However Chomp gets paid on an affiliate basis only when a user pays for and downloads a paid app. That only happens when a consumer is convinced by unbiased reviews that the app is interesting and worth buying. Meanwhile developers have an interest in promoting the site generally to gain positive reviews and more exposure for their apps.
Chomp has hit upon a service and a model that appears to work for everyone.