App Promoters That Run Afoul of Apple Policies Are Still Running Amok, Getting Developers and Apps Removed
According to a report on VentureBeat, it seems as if Apple is starting to really hammer down on services that use unauthorized methods to generate app downloads, and it’s taking some of those who partner with these services down with them. In particular, Gtekna is highlighted for being a potential infringer, and mentions that developer Animoca may have been banned due to using methods to inflate their rank in a way that ran afoul of Apple policies.
However, public accusations may not hold much water with Apple. For example, TopDealApps, which was highlighted by Pocket Gamer earlier this year for using users’ Apple accounts to drive installs, still runs a free game promotion service, and even still has its app on the App Store – the one alleged to drive users to download free games. If they are truly doing something illegitimate, then either Apple hasn’t caught on or they have modified their policies to be on the level with Apple. They could just not be caught, either.
Part of the problem appears to be that Apple remains especially silent on their intentions. Even in 2012, developers generally complain that Apple rejections are particularly vague, and as the gatekeeper, they can reject an app for any reason. A former senior engineer at Apple says that the team is generally understaffed and overworked. Thus, while it seems as if Apple is willing to shut down entire publishers solely for associating, even unknowingly, with promoters who use bots on a piecemeal basis, they could just not be caught by Apple in the rapids of the App Store, where more apps are pouring in on a regular basis.
VentureBeat points out Tapjoy as one particular company that’s had to have their strategies changed due to running afoul of Apple: where once incentivized installs could be used to get more in-game currency, and viewing ads could be used to get in-game advantages. In fact, watching videos to get more coins was a strategy that got Temple Run pulled from the App Store, but recently, games have started to use it again, one such example being Pinball Maniacs, which uses an identical mechanic.
However, where Apple shuts down app promoters, there is always a second choice, Android. Tapjoy continues to offer incentivized app installs on that OS. Mobage can offer games that use Mobacoins between apps, instead of be restrained to one app, which may be why they’re launching over there first. It may be harder to make money off of Android, but with Google’s far more lax restrictions, the potential for some of these illicit techniques to make their way over there is very high. Will bot tactics and using Google accounts fly with Google? Probably not, but app marketing is about the here and now, and adjusting on the fly to how the platform holders change direction. Developers should be wary of anyone who claims to get them into the top chart, because while they may be able to do it, it could be too good to be true.