Apple has issued a reminder to developers warning them to not manipulate App Store rankings. Following Apple’s removal of a third-party developer’s collection of 68 copy-cat apps (titles like Temple Jump and Numbers With Friends) from the App Store, the issue of chart scamming has been brought into the light again.
Stealing isn’t the only way that devs can manipulate the top charts. As highlighted by PocketGamer, there are scam services that will enlist thousands of bots to redownload a certain app over and over until it rises to the top of the App Store. This activity takes advantage of free download rankings to make an otherwise-worthless app popular overnight. All a dishonest dev has to do is pay a company a few thousand dollars to get a crappy app off the ground and into the limelight.
Here’s what Apple has to say on the issue:
Adhering to Guidelines on Third-Party Marketing Services
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.
Lesser-known devs have been known to ripoff the design or name of a popular app in order to trick customers into downloading. This isn’t a new practice, but this type of cheating also continues to steal the spotlight from the legitimate offerings in the App Store.
If you’re a developer, how do you feel about these types of App Store ranking scams? Do you believe that Apple could be combating these fraudulent promotional services more proactively?