Apple Hunts Down App Store Manipulators

July 9, 2012 - 2 minutes read

Word to the wise, be careful who you choose to market your app. According to a recent article in Venture Beat, Apple is cracking down on shady app marketers and punishing developers who knowingly or unknowingly attempt to manipulate their App Store ranking. App developers caught cheating the system risk having their developer account revoked without the possibility of appeal.

A slew of shady app marketing companies have been exposed for using bots and/or cheap labor in China to rapidly boost their clients’ download numbers, allowing obscure apps to suddenly spike in the rankings. According to industry insiders, a large portion of these apps are never even opened.

Apple holds app developers responsible for their marketing actions, even if they didn’t know that app store manipulation was taking place.  Last February the company cracked down on a number of dubious marketing firms. At least one major developer, Animoca, was banned.

It’s not clear how many apps were taken off the market for this reason, but every month Apple takes down 5,000 apps for a variety of reasons. The fact that Apple has banned the bot and so-called ‘water armies’ marketing practice is one of the main causes of the recent decrease in the number of iPhone apps downloaded.

But some of the developer exiles plucked out of the store by Apple are trying to fight their outcast status and bounce back from the resulting loss of business. The company only communicates about its guidelines with the largest companies, leaving many indie iPhone app developers without a proper explanation or route of appeal.

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