Reported first by TechCrunch last night, Apple has paid a reported (but unconfirmed) $50 million for Chomp and its roughly 20 employees. Chomp offers both iOS and Android apps and a desktop site and is dedicated to solving the problem of app discovery.
Chomp can either be described as a search engine for apps or “Yelp for the app store,” because of its reliance on reviews as a ranking signal and its engaged community of users.
The CEO Ben Keighran and his CTO are apparently already working at Apple/iTunes in anticipation of a significant redesign of the app store, using some of the infrastructure that Chomp is bringing over.
Apple essentially failed to develop a social network with Ping for iTunes. As a secondary benefit of buying Chomp it may get another opportunity to do so via Keighran and company.
The revamped iTunes store, whenever it launches, will also no doubt be much more search centric, as Chomp is. We’ll probably hear more about Chomp (or iTunes) SEO accordingly. Chomp SEO could even spawn a bit of a cottage industry.
As others have pointed out, Chomp’s technology is also the basis for Verizon’s app store. However, it’s likely that the Android version of Chomp and the Verizon relationship will atrophy over time — if not immediately. However Apple might want to maintain Chomp for Verizon to preserve good relations with the carrier.
Chomp took roughly $2.5 million in investor money according to published reports. If that’s accurate and the $50 million acquisition price is also correct it’s quite a return for everyone involved.
Apple has nearly $100 billion in cash burning a hole in its pocket. CEO Tim Cook has indicated he’s more flexible than Apple founder Steve Jobs in terms of what to do with that cash. And while Apple has made deliberate, irregular acquisitions in the past it may step up the pace under the leadership of Cook.
Below is a demo video of the Android version of Chomp featuring CEO Keighran.