How much would you pay to be popular? For some app developers looking for a fast way to ensure their apps are seen, a few thousand in cash is all it takes.
It seems that if you’ve got the cash, you can skew the rankings of your app and engineer a success (in a sense), just send your money to China. An image of a Chinese worker manning a bank of iPhones has been doing the rounds on Chinese social network Weibo. The original post was headed with caption, “Hard-working App Store ranking manipulation employee” and gives us a glimpse at the darker side of Apple’s mobile marketplace.
Rankings are there for a reason, to ensure that the masses can help push the cream to the top and keep the rubbish down the bottom, but with enough funds, companies like these can force an app up in popularity and keep it there, even if it’s utter guff.
As you can see in the picture the woman is operating rows of iPhone 5Cs and it appears that she’s either downloading apps from the App Store or writing reviews. You can see even more handsets on the far left of the photo and this is just one half of the story.
As CultOfMac points out, searching for “app store ranking manipulation” on a Chinese C2C e-commerce site called Taobao will yield a number of services for your nefarious app ranking needs. Provided you’ve got the dough you can push an app into the App Store’s top 10 free apps list for around $11,200 (£7,300), but keeping it there is a little trickier (and pricier), costing a notable $65,000 (£42,400) per week!
Whilst that’s a lot of cash, the fact that there’s a market at all shows that companies and wealthy developers are willing to game the system to pull in numbers and depending on the app, get ahold of user’s social media information or money through micro transactions.
It’s a problem Apple says it’s been cracking down on, but these images highlight just how real a problem it still is and is likely to remain for the time being.
Have you ever wondered why some top apps are as popular as they are? Let us know in the comments.