Originally posted on Gigaom:
With more than 550,000 apps, finding the right app in Apple’s App Store (s aapl) can be a challenge for some. Though the App Store is still ahead of rival Android Market (s goog) in discovery features, Apple clearly sees a need to ramp up and improve the way it helps consumers pick through its growing collection of apps. That’s what’s behind the acquisition Thursday of Chomp, an app discovery engine that helps users search for apps on iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
The acquisition, first reported by TechCrunch and confirmed by Apple, gives Apple a pretty robust tool to improve its App Store. Chomp lets users find apps by searching without knowing the name of a particular app. Users can search by what an app does and then find relevant results, which start appearing right as a user begins typing. Chomp looks at all the data associated with an app to bring up results and also gathers information from blogs, social networking sites and other app stores to find what’s trending. The company also launched “Chomp Search Ads” last fall, a sort of AdWords program allowing developers to bid on certain keywords in app searches.
Verizon (s vz) actually rebuilt its VCast App Store in September using Chomp to power discovery, even though it only had a few thousand apps in its store. It showed that even a big company like Verizon saw value in applying more smarts to app discovery, something the Android Market has been criticized for not improving upon. Chomp will reportedly continue to power VCast App Store for now, but that arrangement will eventually end as it gets integrated into the App Store experience, TechCrunch said.