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Apple warns it will crack down on App Store rank fraud services

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Apple has warned App Store developers against using promotional services that seek to increase the visibility of their titles by automating sales to inflate their apps' apparent popularity or by posting phony reviews, threatening to terminate their accounts if they do.

In a message posted to Apple's Developer site today titled "Adhering to Guidelines on Third-Party Marketing Services," the company noted:

"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 message links to an internal page that outlines advice for App Store developers ranging from submitting apps to navigating the approval process to managing and marketing apps, including a section titled "Tips for Creating a Great Presence on the App Store" and instructions for how to participate in the App Store Affiliate Program and the App Store Volume Purchase Program for businesses and education institutions.

Phony promotion

Apple's comments appear to be a reaction to a forum posting to touch arcade yesterday, where a developer reported, "I came across this ad network which guaranteed to get my app into the Top 25 in the app store at a relatively cheap price ($5000)."

The poster, identified as "walterkaman," noted that the service claimed to have promoted 8 of the top 25 free iPhone App Store titles to their position by hiring "someone to build him a bot farm" to "automatically download his clients' apps and drive up their rankings."

Despite the warning posted by Apple today, the apps implicated by the post as allegedly using the service, including Crowdstar's Social Girl, Booyah's Pet Town, Funzio's Crime City, Breaktime Studio's Sweet Shop, SGN's Fluff Friends and TinyCo's VIP Poker are all still listed in the App Store and remain top ranking free apps (all are monetized via In-App Purchases).




The poster did however note that the company promoting the service said that Apple already knew about the issue and had taken action to ban a developer named Dream Cortex for "botting." The user complained, "I am very disappointed to know that these 8 other apps are getting insane exposure on the app store by paying a mere $5000."

Apple has continually worked to shut down fraud in the App Store, a difficult task given the allure of hundreds of thousands of dollars that can be made by gaming the market. In January, Apple cracked down on a piracy service set up to facilitate the theft of apps, while two days ago it kicked a number of copycat apps out of the App Store that all appeared to be blatant efforts to rip off popular titles.


[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 12
It's about fucking time!
You should see the reviews for some apps. Like TextPlus. The app sucks, and yet it has a 5 star perfect rating. And every review is a 5 star review from some user spamming their own group or some crap like that.
post #3 of 12
So what will Gtenka and AppMagenta do next?
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by kriskkalu View Post

So what will Gtenka and AppMagenta do next?

Go fuck themselves, hopefully.
post #5 of 12
Phew, finally Apple is putting some good use of their stash of cash.. Apple should be be proactive in this matter. I don't think apple really need to worry about their earnings from the App store and free apps don't net them any money unless they use their iAds.
Apple, by taking such actions will only help developers who don't use such services. not everyone wants to work for big corporations.Its all but fair.
post #6 of 12
If they made the minimum app price 0.99c it would end this.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

If they made the minimum app price 0.99c it would end this.

Or would the jerks just charge $10K to promote an App - 5K for the booting, and 5K to pay for 5000 individual $0.99 purchases?
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by l008com View Post

Go fuck themselves, hopefully.

Hopefully that is the email Apple will send to any devs caught using it.
post #9 of 12
While Apple is at it, it should improve the visibility of reviews (now only visible from the local store), which severely cripples the relevance of review statistics for small national stores.

Now I have to switch to the US store and start the search all over (it even doesn't retain context) and go back to my national store again to make a purchase

E.g., while my native language is Dutch, I fluently read English, French, German and Spanish. So why can't I have access to these reviews in the Apps/iTunes stores?
What I see is only the Belgian commentaries, ranging from 0 to e.g., 5 reviews. Relevance?

Most apps are relevant to many countries or linguistic regions. Same with music, somewhat less so with songs. Movies with proper subtitling or dubbing are available in large parts of the world.

Apple's review system in the App/iTunes stores is seriously flawed. What would fix it is flexible filtering on language, script (I personally would exclude arabic, chinese, cyrillic,...), and only every once in a while on country. A lot of that could be automatically inferred or part of the preferences for the AppleID.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by VanFruniken View Post

(it even doesn't retain context)

Exactly the problem that bugs me the most. Really makes searching for apps a PITA!

Also wish Apple would make the App Store searchable on any Mac or PC, with an expanded interface so one could swiftly browse through the relevant offerings, select winners, and upload them right to an iThingy. Think there would be a much more level playing field if apps were just easier and faster to find than is the case now under iOS.
Hey, this Kool-Aid is delicious, what do you put in it?!
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Hey, this Kool-Aid is delicious, what do you put in it?!
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post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple has warned App Store developers against using promotional services that seek to increase the visibility of their titles by automating sales to inflate their apps' apparent popularity or by posting phony reviews, threatening to terminate their accounts if they do.

That's what happens when you have an App Store full of poor quality apps that you can't sort through and leave customers dependent on the charts for sales.

Solution: get rid of the one-size fits all charts.

There are over half a million apps yet every time I browse the store, I see the same ones in the top 50 over and over. The charts should be personalised based on my purchase history and my ratings. If I say that I'm not interested in an app, I should never see that app ever again.

As noted at length here:

http://forums.appleinsider.com/showthread.php?t=115462

Nobody can work that system to an easy advantage because there is no global chart. The best they can do is become popular for a given subset of consumer tastes and this would be far less profitable than a global chart.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

That's what happens when you have an App Store full of poor quality apps that you can't sort through and leave customers dependent on the charts for sales.

Agreed. I've long since stopped browsing the App Store because it's an extremely poor way of finding quality apps. Apple needs better tools to help users sift through all the crap and find the stuff that's not made by a 4th grader in a garage.

Either that, or start adding some intelligence to the results. Like Amazon does. I shop amazon a lot more then other stores.. one reason is because their recommendation system is genuinely helpful.
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