Apple is reportedly experimenting with incorporating app ratings as a factor for its App Store Top Charts rankings. This move isn’t unexpected, as developers have entered into a silent war against Apple, pleading for it to remove the ranking charts from iTunes altogether. This is due, in part, too the ability for developers to pay to artificially inflate their app store positions with fake downloads.
By including app ratings in the ranking algorithm, the speed and amount of app downloads become less important. App marketing firm Fiksu noticed the change in July, as apps unexpectedly moved up or down on the top app charts without a corresponding increase or decrease in app download numbers. When investigating the change, Fiksu’s Performance Labs team discovered the changes correlated with app ratings.
Apps rated four-stars or higher jumped up the app charts in late July, and have stayed there until now (mid August). Apps with less than a three-star rating, however, moved down the charts about two weeks after, dropping in rank and never jumping back up.
Fiksu has also discovered that app store rankings now update every three hours, instead of every 15 minutes. Furthermore, the ratings for the most current versions of each app seem to hold the most weight, though it isn’t fully clear whether historical rankings also matter.
If these changes become an official part of the App Store ranking system, consumers can expect higher quality app experiences, as only those apps with corresponding ratings will stay near the top. At the same time, developers of apps with bugs and other issues will be held more accountable, as those negative reviews will impact their position on the charts.
By adding this large incentive, developers would, in theory, produce higher quality products, leading to more purchases from users and more revenue for everyone. You can view Fiksu’s full report on the App Store changes on the company’s blog.