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Apple debated whether or not to bring ads to the App Store back in 2015

Even Apple wondered if ads should exist on the App Store.

What you need to know

  • Apple had an internal debate if it should bring ads to the App Store.
  • The internal emails were released as part of the Epic v. Apple trial.

Apple struggled over the idea to bring ads to the App Store.

As reported by 9to5Mac, internal emails released as part of the Epic v. Apple trial show that the company struggled with the idea of bringing advertisements to the App Store as far back as 2015.

Apple’s internal discussion about adding Search Ads to the App Store appear to have began around February 2015, when Apple’s David Neumann emailed Eric Friedman a link to Google’s announcement about allowing ads in Google Play. Neumann is 15-year veteran engineer at Apple, while Friedman serves as head of the company’s Fraud Engineering Algorithms and Risk unit.

“Boy, I sure wish we could do this,” Nuemann wrote in the email referencing Google’s announcement about ads in the Play Store. Friedman responded and said that it was something that Apple had considered.

You can read the rest of the email exchange below:

Yes, the ability to pay for promotion would be awesome. We’ve floated it several times as the way to end chart gaming: if people are willing to pay “marketing companies” (bot nets) to gain position, why don’t we just let them pay us to gain position?

No one is willing to take that on, however. I suppose it would get pretty cheesy, but at least it would be transparently cheesy.

I’ve actually managed to convince myself that our App Store charts aren’t really a discovery tool at all. Yes, they do drive some conversions, but that is (l suspect and haven’t verified) mostly the bots and/or humans responding to incentives from promotional companies. Think about it: a chart that puts YouTube and Flight Pilot Simulator 3D in the same list isn’t useful to a human shopper. Sure, you might buy both, but that decision won’t be motivated by their popularity relative to one another.

No, I think the primary function of the charts is “inside baseball.” They serve as a ‘Who’s on top?” list for developers so that they know which mechanical rabbit to pursue in the market race.

It’s an interesting day for this information to come out as Apple just released a new way for developers to advertise their apps on the Search tab of the App Store.