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Apple nipping an App Store rankings scam - $5000 gets your app into the top 25, guaranteed

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Apple nipping an App Store rankings scam - $5000 gets your app into the top 25, guaranteed
Hollywood could probably make a decent thriller out of all the geek drama that is going on at the App Store. Successes and failures, rags to riches - the $4 billion worth of iOS developers' creations have all the markings of a good flick.

As if to prove that point, now we have a villain thrown in, a 3rd party service that offered a developer to promote his app for $5000 and get it into the top 25, guaranteed. The developer thought this is quite a small price to pay, compared to the established AdMob network he planned to turn to initially. AdMob quoted him quite the steeper amount, and the sales guy mentioned it takes a lot of time, money and traffic to get into the top 10 featured apps.

The developer doesn't mention the name of the 3rd party service that offered him a top 25 position for $5000, but when he asked why so cheap for such a service, the rep disclosed something pretty shocking for the uninitiated into the ins and outs of the application stores business.

Apple nipping an App Store rankings scam - $5000 gets your app into the top 25, guaranteed
He said they have outsourced a server farm that employs bots to robodownload an app numerous times, thus increasing its rankings, and they eventually get it into the top placings.

What's even worse, to try and close the sale, he asked the developer to fire up his phone, and look at the top 25 apps, then walked him through it, and told him which of the applications belong to the bot service's clients - and there were 8 of them! This, of course, means that a third of the top 25 apps were there not based on their merits, which they might or might not have, but on a clever way to game the system.

I was totally SHOCKED when I heard that there were 8 apps on the Top 25 Free App store that were all promoted by them. At this point, I was pretty curious on how he's able to do that (I was told by an AdMob sales person before that it takes a lot of money and traffic to promote an app to the Top 10). That's when he let loose the BIGGEST FRAUD ever, he said he had outsourced someone to build him a bot farm and the bots will automatically download his clients' apps and drive up their rankings!!! He even told me that even though I might see my app climb up the app store, they aren't "REAL" at first until it gets to the top and that's when REAL HUMAN players will start seeing my app and play it.

The rep then told him that the price is just $5000 now, since Apple is aware of this robodownloading thing, and has already cracked down on one developer called Dream Cortex for promoting their apps through such a bot service. This posting has apparently forced Apple to speed up on the crack down process, and it is sending out letters to developers warning them that they could lose their Apple Developer Program membership if robodownload services are used to promote their apps. Yesterday Apple posted this in its developer news website section:

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.

Oh, the drama! Where there's a lot of money to be lost and gained, there will always be people that try to game the system, and we are wondering what's the situation with other app stores, too. Hopefully Apple will make an example of several "cheaters" to nip this thing in the bud, as it could really affect the reliability of the App Store rankings.

source: Toucharcade (forums) & Apple via TUAW

10 Comments
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posted on 07 Feb 2012, 04:27

1. theindianguy (Posts: 90; Member since: 30 Sep 2011)


oh my :P

posted on 07 Feb 2012, 06:31

3. ghost__uwi (Posts: 175; Member since: 28 Nov 2011)


damn...

posted on 07 Feb 2012, 07:07 6

4. remixfa (Posts: 13936; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW....

Soooo... that article about how apple people download more apps than android people.. I think it needs to be amended to say that apple ibots (get it.. lolol) download more than "people". :)

posted on 07 Feb 2012, 07:39 5

5. willardcw4 (Posts: 169; Member since: 01 Oct 2011)


Guaranteed there are bots on the Android Market...

posted on 07 Feb 2012, 11:34 3

7. remixfa (Posts: 13936; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


oh most definitely. But this article is about apple. :)

posted on 07 Feb 2012, 12:20

8. willardcw4 (Posts: 169; Member since: 01 Oct 2011)


tru dat son! ;)

posted on 07 Feb 2012, 11:22 2

6. redman (Posts: 10; Member since: 14 May 2008)


So if Apple is holding developers liable for third parties nefarious actions, perhaps someone should hold Apple more liable for their subcontractors poor manufacturing practices... Apple says they are monitoring the subcontractors actions, but it seems the consequences are never as severe for Apple as Apple imposes on developers...

sounds like the typical hypocritical Apple position (IMO)

posted on 07 Feb 2012, 17:25

9. ladyhaly (Posts: 106; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


I agree.

posted on 09 Feb 2012, 04:52

10. RanJos (Posts: 8; Member since: 08 Feb 2012)


I thought Apple apps were classy and s**t! There are! But $5000 is so freaking cheap, I expected them to bribe more....

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