Sudden changes to App Store rankings for both free and paid games and applications has led to speculation that Apple has changed its App Store ranking algorithm. The App Store’s bestselling chart was previously based purely on the number of times an app was downloaded; now it seems like application usage is also taken into account when iOS apps are ranked.
One of the most noticeable shifts for an application was to the official Facebook app, which jumped straight to the number 1 spot in the free chart after hovering between 10th and 20th for the last year. Other popular apps, such as Netflix and Pandora, also jumped up the chart after the adjustment.
Flurry provides analytics services to over 80,000 applications, and was one of the first to discover the App Store’s changes. Peter Farago, vice president of marketing, said:
We’ve been noticing changes in the Top Free rankings for at least three days now. From our point of view, Apple is absolutely considering more than just downloads, which we believe is the right direction to measure true popularity of an app.
Mike Breslin, marketing director at Glu Mobile, predicted how the App Store’s ranking algorithm had changed:
It looks like it’s daily actives and monthly actives. Basically, how much is the product used? Is it just sitting there on the handset or is it being actively used?
These modifications to the App Store’s ranking system should be welcome changes for both developers and consumers. Taking into account application usage – as opposed to just download figures – means that popular applications will keep their rightful places towards to top end of the App Store charts, as opposed to being overtaken by spam titles that users download simply to earn credits in other games, then delete hours later.