Apple Acquired Startup Ottocat To Boost App Store Search

Tech giant Apple has always been known to play its cards pretty close to the vest. So it is perhaps not surprising that the company may have secretly acquired a startup company called Ottocat . . . two years ago. Reportedly, Apple made the buy to exploit its technology to power the EUexploreEU tab in the Apple App Store.

The news comes courtesy of TechCrunch, although the Web site did not say how it learned of the acquisition, which is believed to have occurred in 2013. The Ottocat Web site suddenly went down in October of that year, and its landing page was replaced with a terse EUOttocat is no longer available," despite the fact that the company had launched a beta version of its service only five months earlier.

The Tech Behind the Explore Tab

The timing also coincides with Apple's announcement of the new explore functionality in the middle of 2014, a function that looks very much like the technology Ottocat offered.

During Ottocat's brief lifespan (it was founded in 2012), it developed a free app discovery service that was available through its Web site, which it called the EUOttocat Taxonomy Browsing Platform.EU The service automatically generated new subcategories within the Apple App StoreEUs existing categories to make the store easier to navigate.

"The Apple App Store, with a mere twenty-three categories, is nearly impossible to navigate," Edwin Cooper, OttocatEUs CEO and co-founder, said in 2013. "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 percent of the App Store which...

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