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Verizon improves search in its app store

The wireless carrier is partnering with start-up Chomp to increase the accuracy and relevancy of searches made in its Verizon app store.

A screenshot of the new Chomp search in the Verizon Apps store

Verizon Wireless wants to make it easier to use its app store.

The wireless provider said today that it is partnering with start-up Chomp to improve the accuracy and relevancy of searches in its Verizon app store. Rather than search by name, Chomp provides results based on what an app does, as opposed to what it is called.

The two are looking to shore up a natural dilemma that has sprung up from having so many different applications: finding the right app for you. Verizon is hoping that the better search function will set it apart from other app stores and draw in new users. Chomp, which already has a search app on iOS and Android, benefits from the high-profile partnership.

"It's widely known in the mobile app world that there's so many apps that it's terribly difficult for customers to find quality content," said Todd Murphy, director of customer service at Verizon. "It's really going to take app discoverability and the app search approach to a whole new level."

Chomp Chief Executive Ben Keighran said: "It's actually a difficult problem."

He noted that when you search for a generic task or topic, you almost always get poor search results. That's because few people have invested in app searches, he said.

The partnership is part of Verizon's push to better lure in developers and get a piece of the app business largely dominated by the likes of Apple and Google. Today marks the start of the Verizon Developer Community Conference in Las Vegas.

While Verizon hopes to steer more of its customers into its own app store, consumers largely use the Android Marketplace run by Google. Murphy said the app store now gets millions of active users in the system. Verizon, which touts safety and its customer relationship as advantages for its store, has been slowly moving away from using the VCast brand and using the core Verizon name.

Chomp CEO Ben Keighran in his offices Chomp

The improved search function in the app store will come preloaded in new Android phones, and customers with the Verizon app store on their existing phones will need to manually install a service update. Murphy said the goal is to have the feature on all Android phones.

Keighran noted that the partnership was born out of the company's work with Verizon at the carrier's application innovation center in San Francisco.

Murphy said he heard about Chomp's capabilities a year and a half ago, shortly after it had launched on the iPhone. Verizon had previously distributed Chomp through its app store. But today's announcement represents Verizon integrating Chomp's technology into its service.

"This is a really big expansion to our partnership," Keighran said.

Keighran said Chomp should benefit from the data fed by Verizon, which will lead to smarter, more accurate searches. The search engine also looks at data from blogs, Twitter, and other sources to improve its database.

"This is a huge differentiator for Verizon," Keighran said.