Yesterday, many mobile app owners woke up to find that their products weren’t appearing in search in the App Store for an unknown reason. This included a number of popular brands, such as Starbucks, Uber, Spotify, the BBC and many others. Instead of those particular apps, similar alternatives were brought up. Although apps weren’t deleted from the store, they weren’t easily found either, which caused panic for many developers.
Whether it’s a glitch in the store or an issue with the app itself, an outage can incur a substantial financial loss, especially if the app is the core business. According to last year’s figures, an App Store outage could lose nearly $10 million in revenue for app owners.
Not being available in search for any amount of time means a significant number of users potentially don’t have access to the app that might be relevant to them. Many commentators have noted that the less popular apps are harder to find on a normal day, which inhibits their chance of becoming better known. However, any issues with search can bring even further financial damage to the developer.
Search results for various apps during the issue
There is also a risk that users might download a competitor’s app if the one they’re looking for isn't available. For example, yesterday’s issue was still showing apps that were similar to the ones being searched for, but they were likely to be direct competitors. Situations like this can do more long-term harm if users aren’t particular about the brand, even if it’s unintentional.
This coincides with the ongoing debate about Apple’s alleged plan to introduce paid search. Developers would be required to pay for their app to appear at the top of the search results in the App Store. According to the latest reports, global mobile app store revenues are estimated to grow to $101 billion by 2020.2 This would make paid search a highly lucrative business for Apple, just as it has been for Google. However, does this mean that developers with new apps will need to spend a significant amount to introduce their products?
Luckily, the service was resumed by the afternoon BST and all the ‘lost’ apps are now back on and ready to be downloaded.