Appstore or is that the Gamestore?

I’ve been doing some research into what is popular on the iTunes Appstore. No real surprises, but here’s the chart of the Top 100 apps in the appstore by category:

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Lifestyle only has one entry – that is Bikini Blast – How is that Lifestyle? :-)

There are several categories missing from the top 100 altogether.

How do you stand out in that many games, the flip side – how do you get an App from a less than popular category into the top 100?

Maybe they need to split the games out and have a separate AppGames Store. That might float out a few more of the other Apps.

Or maybe they need to fix search?

Apple Tweaks the Appstore Part II

In my post yesterday I showed how Apple can tweak the top 100 lists to manipulate outcomes keep it fresh .

Today I would like to point out a problem that we as developers have with the store.

Visibility and search – basically it is broken.

Back in the days on AltaVista and Excite search engines it used to be possible to publish and submit a page to them that contained the same word 500 times, bingo it gets listed up near the top until somebody comes along and makes a page with 501 of the same word… Apples’ iTunes search is at the same stage of evoloution that these search engines were before Google existed – back in 1996! And that is why Google grew so quickly!

Let’s do some searches:

Let’s suppose that I’m a user that owns iGirl – so I do a search to see what else I can buy that is similar… In the results, I’d expect an entertainment app for a start, maybe one that other people that owned iGirl had purchased, and I’d probably want them listed in order of total sales ever (rather than current popularity which is meaningless). I might even want star ratings to be taken into consideration.

Here’s the results of an iTunes search for iGirl in order:

iGirl, iGirl (lite), iGirlfriend, iGirl Blackjack,, iGirl Blackjack Lite. That is ALL the apps that are listed – just 5!

Hmmm, that can’t be right – there are NO popular Apps there at all – even ones that people who bought iGirl also bought, and certainly none that don’t have the word iGirl in the actual name of the App:

buyers of igirl also bought 

Let’s see, people that bought iGirl also bought Bikini Blast, Wobble, iStrip, a couple of games and iSoda.

I wonder why those Apps don’t show up – I mean the top two have sold almost 200,000 copies so there must be some reasonable correlation possible to produce the search data???

So let’s reverse that – do a search for Wobble: there are 30 results!! (that’s the maximum) The first 6 in order are:

Wobble, Wobble Free, iGirl, iLava, iGirl Lite, iStrip – then a bunch of Apps that all list the word Wobble in their descriptions – I might add they also all list iGirl in their descriptions

hmmm, that can’t be right, Apple are favouring iGirl – why is that? Lets take a look at what people also bought who also installed Wobble:

buyers of wobble also bought

Well that is strange – they bought Bikini Blast and iGirl – so iGirl and Wobble sounds like a match – well go figure, search results only correlate one way?!

Why is Apple blocking all the results competing against iGirl and not the other way around?

Just to show it is not just the name (or Wobble)– do a search for: iBeer – iGirl comes up 3rd and iGirl Lite comes up 7th
iFart – iGirl comes up 10th
iJiggle – iGirl comes up 2nd
iSteam – iGirl comes up 2nd
You get the idea

Time to dig a bit more deeply. Why is Apple favouring iGirl – at the expense of other Apps?

Why is search so poor on iTunes – Apple have sold the 30,000 Apps almost 1 Billion times – surely there is some search data available!

Apple Tweaks the Appstore

In the Appstore there is a section known as “New and Noteworthy” there is also sections “Whats Hot” and “Staff Favorites” All of these sections are used by Apple to tweak the top lists and push stuff out they don’t like, and push stuff up that they do!

New and noteworthy is Apple manipulating what they want to see in the top lists by tilting the playing field, and not related to an Apps release date.

For example the first in the new and noteworthy atm is Parking Lot released in Oct 2008 – a competitor to Blocked – Blocked has been at the top of the charts for a while now, not surprisingly it is now heading down the top 100, since Apple has pitched Parking Lot against it…

Parking Lot has got to #4 in the top 100 (in just over a week) and blocked has dropped to #12 from #9 yesterday – same game different skin – and Apple has helped this change by featuring Parking Lot in new and noteworthy.

Parking Lot also has 450 levels whereas Blocked had 100, so all those Blocked users might be hungering for more – maybe it’s time for Blocked to release an update??

This tweaking of the Appstore ensures that it stays fresh and boosts sales overall.

So this is NOT a fair/transparent market, Apple own it and it works how *they* want. Devs should not not be surprised if it is hard to break into the market with all these forces potentially working against them.

New App Uploaded :-)

We just uploaded our latest App, I think it will do pretty well. In fact I’m very excited about it.

It’s the weird character 2nd from the right above – details TBA.

Oh – you might have noticed the banner across the top of this blog has been renovated… Those weird guys over on the left are some characters we’ve built for an upcoming game – guaranteed to drive you nuts :-)

Apple Retaliates??

Apple really need to get some consistency. Or at least tell us what the rules actually are!

Sales for our new app recently dropped by a few hundred per day, so I investigated.

Do a search for iGirl and Wobble doesn’t come up, do a search for Wobble and iGirl comes up – hmmm…

Do a search for “Wobble” on USA/iTunes/Appstore and you get 26 applications in the results – in their descriptions, all of them say “Recommended for fans of Wobble” together with a list of other apps. Many of them are currently higher up the charts than we are.

And yet,

Do a search for “SplatFace” (our new app) on USA/iTunes/Appstore and you get one result – even though that text is mentioned in the Wobble and Wobble Free description.

As a test – I put some unique character strings in each of the descriptions for all three of our Apps and sure enough, none of them come up in our searches.

Apple are blocking our “recommended for fans of iGirl etc” text in our description.

To be clear this change only impacted us late on Friday and these searches worked on Thursday. Perhaps commenting on the Techcrunch story and on iPhone dev forum was not a good idea?

You may wonder what is this text worth in the rather weak Appstore Search environment? Well my tests show that you can get around 3-400 extra sales per day by having “recommended for fans of <insert top 20 app here>” text in your description. Spamming? Well that isn’t the point here, it is consistency – or lack thereof.

It seems that it’s another “variable” rule employed by Apple to get the outcomes they want in the store – they don’t want Apps that Wobble Boobs, so they censor the text, then they censor the icons, now they outright block Wobble in searches!

We have currently removed our “recommended list” pending resolution to this queries we have put to Apple:
– What is acceptable???
– Is it use of trademark terms?
– Why are our competitors seemingly allowed to do what we are not AGAIN (re icon discrepancies mentioned last week)

iGirl description:

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Is this Apple retaliating for me speaking out on some forums regarding Apple not paying on time? See Techcrunch last week. Comments?