The App Store was introduced in 2008 and, as of this year, there are well over one million apps for iPhone and iPad. While Apple has scaled their ability to serve those apps to hundreds of millions of customers, search is still a frequent cause for complaint. Gedeon Maheux, writing for Gedblog:
Take Twitterrific, the 3rd party Twitter client that my company, The Iconfactory, created back in 2007 and released on the App Store in 2008. Twitterrific was there at the launch of the App Store and the latest iteration, version 5, is available even today, seven years later. Despite many 3rd party Twitter apps going the way of the dodo, Twitterrific, Tweetbot and a few other hearty Twitter clients have survived and sometimes even thrived. This despite Apple's search results, which bear little resemblance to what a typical user might expect when searching for a simple, straightforward term like "Twitter" on the App Store.
Marco Arment, writing for Marco.org:
You can see similar ranking problems with almost any common search term. I searched earlier today for an iPad Instagram client — the iPad App Store search list for "Instagram" is just as spammy and unhelpful as this. I was only able to find what I was actually looking for by searching Google and asking people on Twitter.
John Gruber, writing for Daring Fireball:
It has always been the case that a Google web search for "whatever iPhone app" provides far superior results than searching the App Store for "whatever". Sometimes the difference is as vast as "perfect" (Google's results) and "useless" (the App Store's), as we can see searching for "Twitter iPhone client" in Google and "Twitter" on the App Store.
There are two things Apple could tackle that would greatly improve search on the App Store:
Different search engines use different criteria to determine relevancy, from keywords to authority. Whatever criteria Apple's currently using seem to produce less than optimal results. Along with better criteria, perhaps human-curation — people scrutinizing the top search queries — could make sure they're producing delightful results.
Likewise, introducing an element of "sloppiness" that would compensate for common spelling mistakes and automatically perform search widening and present nearest neighbor results could reduce user-frustration and increase overall satisfaction.
Relevancy and resiliency are two things search engines are great at, which is why their search experience is so great. Obviously, it's something much more easily said than done, or Apple would have done it already. Yet, 6 years later, it seems like something Apple needs to bend its will towards getting done.