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Apple Warns Developers Not to Manipulate App Store Rankings

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
51,583
13,213






Yesterday, a TouchArcade thread was posted that warned about fraudulent App promotion services that guarantee Top 25 rankings for a modest fee. According to the poster, these services utilize automated scripts or bots to artificially boost free app rankings into the Top charts. At least one company denied the claims in the thread.

PocketGamer picked up on the story based on the forum thread:
For $5,000, said company will allegedly utilise bots that will download a developer's app over and over again until it has broken into the top 25 charts. At this point, the developer's app will have received sufficient customer exposure to attract downloads from real people.
In an apparent response, Apple has just posted a reminder (via iClarified) to developers, warning them not to manipulate App Store chart rankings.
Adhering to Guidelines on Third-Party Marketing Services
Feb 6, 2012

Once you build a great app, you want everyone to know about it. However, when you promote your app, you should avoid using services that advertise or guarantee top placement in App Store charts. Even if you are not personally engaged in manipulating App Store chart rankings or user reviews, employing services that do so on your behalf may result in the loss of your Apple Developer Program membership. Get helpful tips and resources on marketing your apps the right way from the App Store Resource Center.
The existence of these services is not new, but it seems the renewed publicity surrounding them has reached Apple's attention.


Article Link: Apple Warns Developers Not to Manipulate App Store Rankings
 

Mr Fusion

macrumors 6502a
May 7, 2007
812
853
I think this all boils down to one thing: There's too many apps out there.

I understand why developers would resort to these tactics: You could write a fantastic app but it'd be buried under thousands of others, it may never get the initial exposure it needs to take off.

On the other side of this, I find it increasingly difficult to find apps I like these days. Not just because there's so many apps out there, but also because of companies like the ones mentioned in this article messing up the ratings system.

What's the solution here? How could Apple better organize and catalogue the huge collection of apps?

:confused:
 
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Ellmer

macrumors member
Jul 13, 2009
49
26
Brighton, UK
Good.

I'm glad Apple are taking a more prominent note of this. I'm not an app developer, but it certainly does bug me how I have to wade through the tons of crap that I know has made its way into the top 100 by unfair means.

(Although I am completely aware that people are stupid/ bored enough to download them too).

It's the 5 star reviews for the apps that annoy me the most though.
 
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Exhale

macrumors 6502a
Sep 20, 2011
503
136
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows Phone OS 7.5; Trident/5.0; IEMobile/9.0; SAMSUNG; GT-I8350))

There's been quite a few groups 'renting' out their botnet capabilities for services like this lately. No surprise the app store also turns out to be one such target.
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
What's the solution here? How could Apple better organize and catalogue the huge collection of apps?

:confused:

I do much more Searching instead of Browsing, and I generally already have an app in mind from searching the larger web before I enter the store. By that means, I can enjoy the best-of-the-best apps without wading through too much shovelware.

That said, when I do Browse the store/categories, I like to place limits: especially based on star ratings. (That’s something the iPad-based store app does, not sure about the iPhone version.) The number of results can still be high, but not so high that I can’t glance through and weed out the obvious junk. Often based on name and/or icon alone.

And I can spot fake reviews a mile off :eek: But I’m sure many people don’t bother reading through them, especially for a free app.
 
Comment

APlotdevice

macrumors 68040
Sep 3, 2011
3,120
3,790
I think this all boils down to one thing: There's too many apps out there.

I understand why developers would resort to these tactics: You could write a fantastic app but it'd be buried under thousands of others, it may never get the initial exposure it needs to take off.

On the other side of this, I find it increasingly difficult to find apps I like these days. Not just because there's so many apps out there, but also because of companies like the ones mentioned in this article messing up the ratings system.

What's the solution here? How could Apple better organize and catalogue the huge collection of apps?

:confused:
They could start by adding sub-categories for non-gamings apps.

And perhaps add a "novelty" category for all those pointless gimmick apps.
 
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drumrobot

macrumors member
Oct 6, 2009
37
0
Sorry to say that this has been going on for a loooong time. I remember looking through the countless "Mirror" and "Night Vision" apps and seeing all the identical reviews... Apple needs a way for users to report this so that we can stop the spamming.
 
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OrangeSVTguy

macrumors 601
Sep 16, 2007
4,115
59
Northeastern Ohio
Are all those downloads from unique IP address? Maybe somehow implement some kind of control where same IP addresses won't count. Even detecting proxy addresses if they try to download through proxy IPs.
 
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faroZ06

macrumors 68040
Apr 3, 2009
3,387
1
That's the problem with these kinds of things. Downloads are exponential. You get more downloads later when people download stuff.

If I search the exact name of my YouTube video, I don't see it because it only has 10 views, and it can't get more because it never comes up.
 
Comment

miamialley

macrumors 68030
Jul 28, 2008
2,908
383
California, USA
I do much more Searching instead of Browsing, and I generally already have an app in mind from searching the larger web before I enter the store. By that means, I can enjoy the best-of-the-best apps without wading through too much shovelware.

That said, when I do Browse the store/categories, I like to place limits: especially based on star ratings. (That’s something the iPad-based store app does, not sure about the iPhone version.) The number of results can still be high, but not so high that I can’t glance through and weed out the obvious junk. Often based on name and/or icon alone.

And I can spot fake reviews a mile off :eek: But I’m sure many people don’t bother reading through them, especially for a free app.

I know, there's no way to find the best apps in the app store. You have to go to google and YouTube.
 
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faroZ06

macrumors 68040
Apr 3, 2009
3,387
1
So.. for just $5000, I can get Apple to remove any developer from the app store? :cool:

Zynga, here I come!

HAHAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA


muahahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

They'd deserve it. We need to start a "kill Zynga" foundation where we pay people to download it then get it removed.
 
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TsMkLg068426

macrumors 65816
Mar 31, 2009
1,443
307
Good job Apple, but they should also remove apps that are not even being updated anymore either I seem to find some that go back 2 years now. This is also the same problem with podcasts, so many old dead ones that never get updated anymore that really makes it difficult to search and also when it comes to searching for music. Why not have the music search by Record Labels or better Genre breakdown rather than just Dance and Electronic, like when I want to find Chill Out music it is really a mess, they have section for Chill Out or Ambient rather than just Electronic.
 
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JonneyGee

macrumors 6502
Jun 8, 2011
348
1,208
Nashville, TN
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/9A405)

Ellmer said:
I'm glad Apple are taking a more prominent note of this. I'm not an app developer, but it certainly does bug me how I have to wade through the tons of crap that I know has made its way into the top 100 by unfair means.

(Although I am completely aware that people are stupid/ bored enough to download them too).

It's the 5 star reviews for the apps that annoy me the most though.

Especially the five-star reviews that say something like "Download this app, enter this code, win a free gift card!" Seems they're cracking down on these, though. I haven't seen many fake reviews recently.
 
Comment

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,067
5,000
I vastly prefer the Mac App Store. My apps actually get noticed on it, and just a week after paying my $100 to Apple for permission to sell my app on it, I've made back my $100. (Whereas I've sold multiple apps on the iOS app store for the past ten months and have only made $60 back from that so far.)

Edit: Of course, it could be that I just came up with a much better app idea for the Mac App Store than the iOS App Store. I guess more Mac users care about the batteries of their wireless trackpads/keyboards than iOS users care about having quick access to emoji characters.
 
Comment

firewood

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2003
7,933
1,187
Silicon Valley
On the other side of this, I find it increasingly difficult to find apps I like these days. Not just because there's so many apps out there, but also because of companies like the ones mentioned in this article messing up the ratings system.

If there were a big customer need behind this difficulty, then where are the successful visible independant (not iOS ad or bribe supported) review sites? Or maybe a review site with a strongly moderated reputation-based system?

So.. for just $5000, I can get Apple to remove any developer from the app store?

Joe jobs probably being one reason why Apple has been slow and cautious to react.

I vastly prefer the Mac App Store.

Less competition.

For some type of apps, where there are literally many dozens in the iOS App store, there might be only a few in the Mac App store, with some of them both more expensive and less useful than those available for iOS.

Also less 1-star, trained to rate on delete, customers.
 
Comment

japanime

macrumors 68020
Feb 27, 2006
2,183
2,473
Japan
So-called "developers" who would pay $5,000 for such a service are suckers. And their apps probably just plain suck.

Also, I'd hardly call $5,000 a "modest fee" (as the original article characterizes it).
 
Comment

macbook pro i5

macrumors 65816
May 13, 2011
1,338
1
New Zealand
I think this all boils down to one thing: There's too many apps out there.

I understand why developers would resort to these tactics: You could write a fantastic app but it'd be buried under thousands of others, it may never get the initial exposure it needs to take off.

On the other side of this, I find it increasingly difficult to find apps I like these days. Not just because there's so many apps out there, but also because of companies like the ones mentioned in this article messing up the ratings system.

What's the solution here? How could Apple better organize and catalogue the huge collection of apps?

:confused:
Well first of I would start of with new apps tab...
 
Comment

petsounds

macrumors 65816
Jun 30, 2007
1,483
497
I think this all boils down to one thing: There's too many apps out there.

I understand why developers would resort to these tactics: You could write a fantastic app but it'd be buried under thousands of others, it may never get the initial exposure it needs to take off.

On the other side of this, I find it increasingly difficult to find apps I like these days. Not just because there's so many apps out there, but also because of companies like the ones mentioned in this article messing up the ratings system.

What's the solution here? How could Apple better organize and catalogue the huge collection of apps?

:confused:

My personal theory is that Apple relaxed the quality standards in their review process in order to get the number of apps in the App Store to a point where it was a good marketing bulletpoint.

The biggest problem I have is with the Music category. Other categories have sub-categories to help refine searches, but Music is just one big cluster---k. There are so many garbage apps that are all the same -- all they do is promote a different band, using the exact same code -- that as a musician, finding music apps that are for *creating* music and not about being a fan of a band is very difficult. Apple should never have allowed these one-trick pony apps that are carbon copies into the store, but again, in my opinion they probably cared more about boosting the numbers.

Another problem is more on the customer side: the blackmailers. These people will redo their review and change their score to 1 star, stating, "I'll give your app five stars if you add magical ponies. Without magical ponies your app is trash!!" I'm not sure if anything can be done about it, but as a developer it sucks.
 
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johnhmeyer123

macrumors member
Jan 12, 2006
52
0
This all makes sense now. But its a shame to see some big, top notch companies use this service.

However, from a programming standpoint, how is this even possible? I mean creating 100,000+ iTunes accounts?
 
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ibanez81

macrumors newbie
Dec 21, 2010
8
0
Temple Run has 567,497 Reviews?

I've been wondering why Temple Run has so many reviews compared to some other apps...this may explain things.
 
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