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

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.

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.


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:


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

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10 Comments

1. theindianguy

Posts: 90; Member since: Sep 30, 2011

oh my :P

3. ghost__uwi

Posts: 175; Member since: Nov 28, 2011

damn...

4. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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". :)

5. willardcw4

Posts: 170; Member since: Oct 01, 2011

Guaranteed there are bots on the Android Market...

7. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

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

8. willardcw4

Posts: 170; Member since: Oct 01, 2011

tru dat son! ;)

6. redman

Posts: 12; Member since: May 14, 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)

9. ladyhaly

Posts: 106; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

I agree.

10. RanJos

Posts: 8; Member since: Feb 08, 2012

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

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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