An app manipulation farm sounds like someplace developers would go for a weekend retreat, complete with chiropractor sessions. In fact — according to a photo which has gone viral on social media in China — it’s a place where devs can pay for their apps’ download numbers to be artificially inflated.
Why would anyone want to do this? Simply put: because more downloads (perhaps accompanied by positive reviews) enhances apps’ chart position, thereby raising their discoverability level, and hopefully prompting people to download them.
The photo in question appears to show a worker at one such place, sitting in front of what look like around 100 iPhone 5c units. Reports claim that her job is download, install, and uninstall specific apps repeatedly to boost their App Store rankings. Another similar table can be seen opposite her.
The image is accompanied by a second one, showing the alleged prices being charged to get your app to the top of the App Store rankings. Here’s how much you need to pay to secure a no. 1 rated app for yourself:
The alleged price sheet claims that a person looking to get into the top 10 free apps list is looking at spending $11,200. To stay there, they will then need to shell out $65,000 per week.
By searching for “app store ranking manipulation” using China’s most popular C2C e-commerce site, Taobao, numerous similar services can be found. As much as Apple frowns on manipulation of the App Store rankings, for local entrepreneurs a scheme like this is a certified cash cow — even with the large number of handsets and employees you need to spend money on.