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Apple changes App Store search without warning, costs developers sales

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 8:28PM EST

Apple recently made some changes to the search algorithm used by its iOS App Store, and the move may end up having a serious impact on app sales for some developers. 30 South developer Derek Clark wrote a post on his personal blog this past Sunday after Apple quietly made a series of changes to App Store search mechanism. The developer noted that sales of his apps had dropped by more than 30% as a result of the changes, which have caused some of Clark’s apps to disappear completely from listed results for key searches that used to surface his apps.

A number of developers noted similar experiences in a discussion surrounding Clark’s report on Hacker News, and Clark’s business partner TJ Seabrooks chimed in there as well.

“Building on top of someone elses (Apple’s) platform is getting scarier and scarier,” Seabrooks wrote. “They are constantly making sweeping changes that effect our bottom line and provide no transparency, or analytics of almost any kinds, for devs. If I didn’t know better I’d say apple hates devs and thinks of us only as a necessary evil… Just throwing us enough of a bone to not jump ship. Obviously, we plan to spread onto other platforms in the meantime we serve at the pleasure of the king, it seems. We are the new generation of ‘Serf Devs.’ “

In a followup post, Clark elaborates that the biggest impact on sales appears to stem from the fact that the App Store no longer searches combinations of an app’s title and keywords the developer inputs when listing an app.

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Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.