Apple is warning its app developing community to not manipulate the popularity rankings of their apps. According to Apple, users manipulating the rankings, either themselves or through third parties, may lose their Apple Developer Program membership.
What Apple fails to do, though, is warn shoppers that the rankings may by manipulated. Many iPhone and iPad users regularly browse the top apps looking for the best, only to be apparently misled at times. Of course, this problem permeates the internet – from search engines, to top picks, to sales literature posing as editorial content – the internet is rife with misleading rankings and fake reviews.
Apple is doing as most other third party sites do, threaten punishment or penalty of some sort when rankings are manipulated. Those that are doing the manipulating can be hard to catch though. According to the BBC, Apple did not discover the manipulation on their own. The tip apparently came from the Touch Arcade Gaming Forum from an anonymous source, who said a marketing company told him they could get his app ranked in the top 25 for $5000. They gave him the names of 8 apps in the top 25 that they said were promoted by them.
Apple now has over a half a million apps available in its App Store, and certainly policing both them and attempts to manipulate them in the store will be a growing concern.