Commentary

Apple Fights App Store Glut With Search Ads

As promised over the summer, Apple is officially adding Search Ads to its App Store. Funds permitting, that means developers now have a simple way of showing off their apps to potential users.

Heightening demand for such a service, the App Store is expected to expand dramatically over the next few years.

Based on data stretching back to the App Store’s launch in 2008, the active app catalogue in the store will increase by 73% from the end of 2016 -- reaching a total of 5 million apps -- according to a research project by Sensor Tower.

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“The forecasted and historic figures … account for worldwide active apps on the store at the end of each period, as opposed to the total number released (or projected to be released) in past or future years,” Randy Nelson, Sensor Tower’s head of mobile insights, noted in a recent report.

Games are the tip of the spear for that growth: 48,231 new apps debuted on the store in May, with the Games category accounting for approximately 43% of that figure, with nearly 21,000 new games added for the month.

Apple will have to deal with the App Store discoverability problems writ larger if their predictions hold true, Nelson notes.

To date, Apple has already made steps to combat the issue, including launching new categories.

Adding search ads is expected to help, but Nelson suggested that Apple has to consider additional solutions to the problem.

“Some of these improvements will likely come in the form of user interface upgrades, while others may very well benefit from Apple’s accelerated push into machine learning,” Nelson noted. “It’s not unrealistic to imagine a near-future App Store assistant that learns from user behavior to deliver customized recommendations, intelligently surfacing new apps, based on behavior patterns or even conversations with others."

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