iOS Developers Use “Well-Known” Download Bots To Manipulate App Store Rankings [Report]

iOS Developers Use “Well-Known” Download Bots To Manipulate App Store Rankings [Report]

Ever wondered how come iOS titles make it into the App Store’s top 25 list? Some iOS developers have been using download bots to purchase their own apps and manipulate the App Store’s top 25 list, according to a new report from Inside Mobile Apps. The software has been in use for over 12 months to fraudulently promote iOS titles, and some marketing firms charge up to $15,000 a time for the service.

The practice is by no means a secret. According to the report, it’s well-known among the iOS developer community, and even the biggest developers know about them:

It’s remarkable how widely-known the phenomenon of fraudulent download bots was throughout the iOS developer community. Essentially, bots or automated programs have been used for well over a year to download apps until they reach the top of the charts where they can be seen by real users.

Most every large player knew about them, but I could never definitively prove their existence because most developers clammed up or said they would never touch the stuff.

Micah Adler, the Chief Executive of Fiksu, describes the practice as a “well-known secret.” His company was approached by these services in the past, though it was described as an “ad network.” But it soon became obvious to Adler that despite an increase in downloads, “users weren’t even launching the app.”

However, Apple is now wising up to chart ranking manipulation. It send out a letter to iOS developers earlier this month that warned them not to use fake App Store chart services, and that doing so could lead to the loss of their Apple Developer Program membership.

But despite Apple’s warning, it’s likely some developers will continue to use these services. And as noted by The Verge, this makes you question how many real humans are actually downloading those “popular” App Store titles.

  • FriarNurgle

    Boooo Hissss. Cheaters never win… well I guess they do, at least for a while. 

  • joewaylo

    That’s a lot of money to weasal their way up to the tops. 3,000 or so bots (if the purchase is $5) at a time, not to mention how many servers they’ll need to run the bots on. That’s gotta be 1/4 of a million dollars if they’re aiming for the top 25. Isn’t it cheaper to advertise?

  • JFMD

    isn’t this the same as when authors “purchase” 10K copies of their new book to get on the NYT bestseller list? 

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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