Is Apple Is About To Launch A New Global Search Engine?

Did the headline catch your eye? I really wanted a teaser headline for this post which would entice people to read and discover the details of a new global search engine — but for that message, a teaser alone just wasn’t credible.

But when I added the word “Apple” to the headline, it completely changed its dynamics — just like Apple does every time it enters a new business area.

So, I must be talking about Siri right? Wrong. I agree actually that Siri is a really important development, but Apple has much more up its sleeve than just Siri.

What Does Apple Have Up Its Sleeve?

On the 23rd of February, Techcrunch followed by the Financial Times reported that Apple had paid $50 million to acquire a start-up called “Chomp”, whose homepage is shown below.

Chomp is an app search engine where you can find apps using keyword search. Intriguingly, it covers both iPhone and iPad along with Android.

Chomp Is The New Global Search Engine Due To Launch Soon

Chomp Is The New Global Search Engine Due To Launch Soon

The image below shows how Chomp currently presents listings (that’s rankings right?) for apps giving you their ratings and clearly identifying if they are free are not.

The team which created Chomp is already working at Apple on the company’s plan to replace the current “App Stores” with Chomp or a version of it.

Chomp Shows Apps Trending In Popularity And Algorithmically Selects Categories

Chomp Shows Apps Trending In Popularity And Algorithmically Selects Categories

A little testing of Chomp reveals that it is a little more sensitive to keywords than the App Stores themselves – but much needs to be done. Don’t forget, there are now well over half a billion apps which have been downloaded over 25 billion times.

For “apps” read “websites” and for listings read “rankings”, this is big world search and its happening all over again. The app world is now bigger than Google was in the year 2000 when Google had indexed one billion pages — since an app typically has several “pages”.

“Expect To Be Penalized For Abusing Our Rankings!”

Apple is already releasing warnings to app developers saying, “You should avoid using services that advertise or guarantee top placement in App Store charts. Even if you are not personally engaged in manipulating App Store chart rankings or user reviews, employing services that do so on your behalf may result in the loss of your Apple Developer Program membership.”

That is such an uncanny parallel of warnings which Google gave to users of analysis and positioning software in the early years including that they would have their websites de-indexed.

Search For Apps By Keyword

Search For Apps By Keyword

Although Chomp’s multilingual capability is currently still sadly lacking (as was Google’s before 2006), the image below suggests that the potential for rolling this out successfully globally is just vast. Don’t forget, Apple already has the apps “indexed”, it just needs to provide greater access to them via a more effective search paradigm.

Multilingual Keyword Search Works - Sort Of

Multilingual Keyword Search Works - Sort Of

The Big Question Is: Will Apple Keep Android Listings?

Chomp currently lists Android apps too. The big question is whether Apple will continue this with some revised version of the App Store. I suspect they will close down the Android side — even though I believe this would be a strategic error.

Obviously users of Android phones only really want to find listings which will work on the Android platform — and vice versa for iPhone and iPad users. But if you’re looking for a solution for a particular business problem, wouldn’t it make sense if you could search for that before choosing which phone you buy?

A universal search engine also builds better brand loyalty and would, in my view, enable Apple to stay firmly in charge of the market which they created.

Some Brands Will Clearly Be Winners!

Some Brands Will Clearly Be Winners!

Above, you can see how one brand marketer is already benefitting through German language searches in targeting the Austrian market.

This image is included solely to help you visualize the potential, particularly if you’re a brand marketer in a world where even Google says that more than 50% of searches will eventually come from a mobile device with more than a billion people globally using them.

Will Keyword Search Become Part Of The Mix?

Will Keyword Search Become Part Of The Mix?

Chomp Already Offers Keyword Search Advertising

You may not be aware of it, but Chomp already offers keyword advertising. What a fantastic tool for Apple to make more money from apps in which it then shares a margin for every sale. In this context, Apple is a step ahead of Google.

But this is also a big opportunity for advertisers and search marketers to get involved right now as this market develops.

Keyword Research Is Already Possible

See below for some rather rudimentary data which Chomp publishes on popular searches. You can already see the lack of sophistication from searchers using Chomp since it doesnt really make sense that “Apps” is so frequently a component of the keyword — in a search engine which, for now, only lists apps.

Rough And Ready Keyword Search Is Already Available

Rough And Ready Keyword Search Is Already Available

What The Chomp Team Needs To Fix

There have always been weaknesses in the App Store and Chomp doesn’t solve all of them. For international search marketers, they need to fix the following:

    • Geo-targeting by country – for searchers and advertisers
    • Geo-targeting by language – for searchers and advertisers
    • Much more relevant search results
    • More effective social sharing

I’m pretty puzzled (please explain someone) why more of us are not talking about this. The game is about to start – it’s time to get on board!

How? Here are a few ideas which might help:

      • Analyse the keyword searches on Chomp to better understand the mobile user
      • Develop and launch an app or two
      • Advertise against keyword searches on Chomp
      • Review strategies to see if apps can replace web investments

Don’t forget that people who are searching Chomp are searching for solutions. They have a need to solve — just like any searcher at Google!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Apple | Apple: Siri | Channel: SEO | Multinational Search | Search Engines: Outside USA | Search Marketing: Mobile | Search Marketing: Multinational | SEO: Mobile Search


About The Author: is a linguist who has been specializing in international search since 1997 and is the CEO of WebCertain, the multilingual search agency and Editor-in-Chief of the blog You can follow him on Twitter here @andyatkinskruge.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


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  • Ian Lockwood

    Good write-up Andy, hadn’t fully appreciated this until now, thanks. Paid ads in search leading to purchases that you take a commission on, that’s my kind of business model…

  • hockeyplace

    I got pretty sure that Apple would go after Yahoo and launch a search engine, it makes a lot of sense for them to get in the arena with Google and Microsoft 

  • andyatkinskrueger

    Thanks for your comments guys!  With the Motorola purchase by Google coming, it seems Apple and Google are on convergent paths!

  • Tatyana Serbit

    Chomp really lacks the “similar games” feature. It would be awesome if you could get ideas of the similar apps, because keyword search is not that efficient in this field.

    I don’t like AppStore anyway. It is always sooooo slow. It has a few reviews on even TOP apps. And I ran into a problem when I’ve read a description about one paid app, bought it and realized that it’s not working as described. And I’ve found no way to charge back my money.

  • andyatkinskrueger

    Tatyana – looks like the Chomp team should be listening to your feedback :)

  • Global Search Mrktng

    Timing actually couldnt be better if Apple releases something this year. I feel Google is diluting its organic SERPS with paid (ppc, product feeds, local etc) and with so much ad real estate taking over the screen, it spells deja vu all over for us who’ve been in this industry for a long time. Apple has an opportunity to bring back the core search audience without ads (Siri is already doing it)

  • G

    I really wish Apple would make a real search engine competitor to Google, with full search, images, books, scholar search, videos, etc.  Bing is nice but not getting traction due to lack of relevancy and accuracy.  Maybe I am just getting tired of Google . . .

  • Stephen Foreman

    I think you are right, but Google hasn’t really given users a reason yet to jump ship if a new search engine was available. We have had Google engraved into our brains for the last decade, the only way another search engine might thrive is if it offers users something that’s better than Google. And that’s going to take some doing.

    However, if anyone is going to compete for an advert free search engine envornment it’s Apple. The biggest thing they have on their side is the fact they can integrate it into the products we are already using, this is why Bing hasn’t done so well, because the platforms they have available for distribution just aren’t as popular.


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