It is quite a known fact that Apple has been trying ways like acquiring start-ups or introducing new features to improve its services further. One such services was the search option in its popular App Store. To enhance it further, the company had secretly acquired a start-up company called Ottocat in 2013.
According to reports, Apple had previously acquired Ottocat, which was responsible for developing a system that organized and surfaced particular apps on the App Store by using the clubbed categories that increased in specificity. As matter of fact, the ‘explore’ tab on the App Store has been powered by that start-up. The news has come through TechCrunch website, though it has not revealed its sources.
While the rumors spread quickly, the inside reports suggest the acquisition of Ottocat by Apple took place somewhere around 2013. It has to be noted that around the latter half of the same year, Ottoman’s official website displayed a short notice holding the message, “Ottocat is no longer available.” Now only a blank page is displayed when clicked the Ottocat’s URL. Ottocat was not a very popular start-up then. Its life span was very short. “It only opened its beta to the public in May 2013 after developing a working prototype in January 2013,” the report said.
Coincidentally, the timing matches with the Apple’s announcement of the new explore feature in the mid 2014, an option that looks like the technology Ottocat offered. During the life span of 5 months, Ottocat developed a free app call ‘Ottocat Taxonomy Browsing Platform.’ The service automatically created new subcategories within the Apple App Store’s existing categories to make the store simpler to move around.
In 2013 Edwin Copper, CEO and co-founder of Ottocat said, ” The Apple App Store with a mere 23 categories is close to impossible to navigate.” He also added, “THe most visible apps are the most popular apps and so they stay most popular. Users have no means of seeing past a few top apps into the main area of the store, where most of the merchandise is. Ottocat has confronted the app discovery problem head-on, giving users an easy way to finally access the 99.5% of the App Store which had become frustratingly inaccessible.”
In short, Ottocat tackled the issue faced by the people on both side of the App Store. For the users it helped them find what they were looking for using the keywords and displayed specific search results. This even helped the users who had no clue what they are looking for. For the developers, it provided solution to them who were not happy with the way app were getting lost in a deluge of apps on the App Store.
Large acquisitions at quite rare for Apple, which is known for being choosy over its selection. In 2013, it acquired Beats electronics, the headphone and music streaming company for $3 billion to boost its music quality and its hardware.
Apart from that, Apple is also known for quietly buying smaller players and Ottocat fits perfectly in the profile. Ottacat would have shared with Apple the important tip of functionality used in the explore tab. The company’s search system was developed to offer better results on the App Store than what can be achieved through regular keyword searches.
If Cooper is an Apple employee, his work would not just end with App Store. When Apple is on a look-out to reinforce its search feature to compete with its rivals like Google, Cooper’s work on taxonomy browsing would be extended to Internet searches and Safari also. No comments have got from Apple or the co-founders of Ottocat.