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Apple buys iOS App Store search tool Chomp

Chomp (iPhone)

Apple is putting some portion of its $100 billion bank account to work, with the Wall Street Journal and other sources reporting Apple has acquired iOS App Store search tool Chomp for an undisclosed price. As usual, Apple has had nothing to say about the acquisition: an Apple spokesperson has confirmed only that it occasionally buys other companies, and does not usually discuss its intentions or plans. Bloomberg reports Apple is paying about $50 million to acquire the firm.

Chomp is an interactive tool that enables users to search for apps not just buy their names or keywords, but also by “functions and topics” of applications, enabling users to search for applications using general descriptions. Based in San Francisco, Chomp has raised about $2.5 million in venture funding, and counts celebrity Ashton Kutcher as a “marketing advisor.”

As Apple nears the sale of its 25 billionth app from its App Store, the acquisition suggests Apple is looking for ways to make the 550,000 apps in its app store more easily searchable and discoverable. Apple’s existing App Store search feature is very bare-bones, and third-party developers have often complained it can be nearly impossible for users to find their apps in the store unless the programs are featured by Apple.

Chomp also operates an app search service for the Android Market, which helps drive Verizon’s own app search service on selected Android devices. There’s no indication whether Apple will keep that service (and app) available once the acquisition is complete.

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