App Store Inquisition – the 5-star infidels

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I will be talking about that app and that developer. You know, those buggers with the funny hats who sit in the corner tickling the air with spittle-flecked fingers in hot anticipation. That team of cheaters who litter an already buggered App Store with shoddy verbal and digital creations. You’ve seen them before and they’ve seen you, responding with winks and a wet, softly blown kisses. Sure, you say, it happens all the time, but damnit, after you click through iTunes, to your surprise, apps from cheating teams are littered 5-star ratings. Must be good, right? Well, after clicking ‘see all reviews’, you find out that it isn’t the case.

One-off ‘reviews’ which are likely written by developers mop the floor with some potential customers. Nevertheless, humans are chowderheads, who don’t bother to crack the shiny jacket off of a book, or click to the next page of app reviews. Like spambots, shill-written reviews only aid in wasting your time. Of course, no one can dictate what another will like, but the point isn’t that personal opinion varies, it is that the App Store is an unethical place. Anyone can create an account and write a review. Let me rephrase that: any dev can create a personal account, write a review of his/her product and bump its rating. This has nothing to do with personal opinion, it has to do with stuffing the bra.

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Personal opinion be damned. Take Eyedip LLC for instance, a developer who’ve about 9 apps beneath their construction belts which garner more 1 star reviews than most. However, nearly all of their first-page reviews contain at least 2 5-star reviews. And, nearly all are written by the same few people. The App Store is an easy place to get quick reviews. If your software isn’t in too much demand, it is easy to seed yourself promo codes and have at it with a number of accounts. Of course, building good software isn’t a bad idea either.

Eyedip LLC haven’t done the best job of it, though. Their shills are often soft-sculled dough-boys who rate good apps poorly, despite general consensus. Adding to that, most reviews are one-sentence shove-offs such as, “This is hilarious”, or my favourite: “Let’s hear it for verbal harassment”. Unfortunately, companies like this often sell a boat-load of apps, duping customers into parting with their hard-earned pennies.

That said, until now, it has been very hard for a smaller developer to make money which often comes only with exposure. iTunes 9 brings a few welcome changes such as top 200, and top grossing lists among others, but by and large, its default setting which is nary a change from now, makes it hard for developers with tight budgets to make a difference for the products. Eyedip’s promotional team may be shills, but the company is faced with apps at similar price points which are backed by deep budgets and big names.

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For the little guy, word of mouth and a few good blog reviews may not be enough to help diversify the App Store.

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