updated 07:45 pm EST, Thu February 23, 2012
Could herald revamped app search
Apple has bought both the team and technology behind Chomp, a mobile app search engine that could find apps for users based on vague descriptions of what the apps actually do rather than by title or publisher, TechCrunch is reporting. Some of the 20-plus Chomp employees are already showing on LinkedIn as Apple employees, and the technology may be used as part of a rumored App Store redesign to help focus app searches.
Currently, Chomp works with both the iOS App Store and Google's Android Market, but the latter is expected to be dropped over time as the transition is completed. Chomp currently has an agreement with Verizon to power its Android-based app searches, and that will continue for some period but it is unclear how quickly Apple can opt-out of Chomp's contract with the carrier.
Reporter MG Siegler adds that while the purchase price has so far remained undisclosed, investors "should be very pleased" with the sale. The company's website and apps are still functioning as normal and no mention of the acquisition can be found on its company blog or news releases. Chomp is available as an app itself for both platforms, along with its website.
Chomp enables users to describe what they want to accomplish and finds suitable apps, along with summaries, ratings, prices and other information from relevant apps, whereas searches in the App Store or Android Market tend to focus on apps that happen to have the search terms as part of their title. As an example, a search for "property management" in the App Store brings up apps that have one or both words in the title of the app; Chomp's results also delivered results such as iLandLord, Mobile Leasing and Upside, which the App Store search missed entirely.
In its two years as an independent company, Chomp had managed to raise $2.5M in venture funding. Siegler believes the technology will be used to revamp the App Store's search and recommendation engine, which could lead to better avoidance of inferior apps that promise much but don't actually live up to their titles. The Chomp acquisition is also expected to help users navigate through the over 550,000 apps now available in the App Store and zero in on products that meet their criteria better. [via TechCrunch]