Apple Acquires Chomp

With the countdown underway to 25 billion total app downloads, there’s no disputing the success of Apple’s App Store. We live in a world of hyperbole, but Apple’s entry into this space really has changed the entire mobile world. But the App Store is far from perfect. And with its immense scale, a few problems have been revealed. The biggest one is app discovery. There are now over 500,000 apps — how do you find anything?

Right now, it’s hard and getting harder by the day. The strong get stronger while new apps often have trouble breaking in. But with an acquisition that Apple has just made, they hope to change that. Apple has bought the app search and discovery platform Chomp, we’ve learned.

We first covered Chomp in November 2009 to announce their seed funding. Since then, they’ve grown their scope to include not only iPhone apps, but Android apps as well. In fact, Chomp currently has a deal with Verizon to power all of their Android-based app searches. That relationship, obviously, is going to get a bit awkward with this acquisition.

My understanding is that such deals will remain intact for now but are likely to end once the Chomp team and product fully transitions over to Apple. The same is likely true for Chomp’s stand-alone products.

I haven’t been able to learn the exact terms of the deal, but I hear that all the investors should be very pleased with the outcome. This is not a cheap “acqui-hire”, Apple has bought the Chomp team and technology and plans to use both to completely revamp App Store search and recommendations, I hear. And they clearly have the money to do it: Apple has nearly $100 billion in cash (and cash equivalents) in the bank now coming off their monster quarter.

Chomp had raised a little over $2.5 million over two rounds of funding. The company has 20-some employees all of whom should be heading over to Apple.

Chomp CEO and co-founder Ben Keighran wrote a guest post for TechCrunch a year ago entitled: For Mobile Apps, It’s 1996 All Over Again. His company was obviously a big bet in that direction. And it just paid off big time.