This sounds like a terrible idea. The one and only thing Apple should do with App Store search is make it more accurate. They don’t need to squeeze any more money from it. More accurate, reliable App Store search would help users and help good developers.
The Bloomberg article almost makes it sound like there’s a 100-person team working on paid search. I doubt that’s true. More likely, there’s a team working on several improvements to the App Store, including better search.
Daniel Jalkut is also very skeptical:
It’s hard to see how paid placement would consistently benefit either Apple or its direct customers. It’s unlikely that paid listings would be used to highlight apps that are in line with Apple’s other goals for the store.
He rightly points out that making money from the App Store is Apple’s secondary goal. It’s more important to have an ecosystem of apps that make the iPhone itself indispensable. As I argued in a blog post in 2011 about free apps and distribution, I don’t think the App Store should be a source of significant profit for Apple at all.
And if we’re keeping score with old posts where I write not what Apple should do but what I wish they’d do, see “I hope iAd fails” from 2010. iAd is shutting down in June.
I just can’t believe Apple would prioritize paid search over all the other App Store feature requests that developers have. So I prefer to ignore the paid search rumor and instead take away from this article just the good news: Apple has a new team focused on improving the App Store.