Apple Changes App Listing Behavior in AppStore
Apple made some changes to the AppStore recently. Many blogs miss the actual meat, but focus on blocking fake reviews part of the update. The meat is, Apple changed the way the applications are listed in each category. Let ms explain this in detail.
In AppStore, all the applications are categorized based on ‘released date’ by default. But in the previous versions, the ‘Release Date’ was actually the last updated date. This means, if an App was released on Sep 1st and updated (with a new version) on Sep 28th, the released date of the app that was considered was Sep 28th. With this approach, the following were the issues…
- The applications that were updated appeared as new applications (which was misleading)
- When an application was listed on the first page in a category, the sales of that application immediately jumped up (because it is displayed on top in iTunes and even on iPhone for that category)
- Because the sales jump up high for every update (because the app shows up on the first page) the developers focused on updating existing apps (and improve their sales) rather than invonation with new apps
- As the developers push the updates frequently to keep their sales high, the users are often fed-up with updating their apps frequently
Don’t believe in what I am talking about? Here is the sales for one of my apps. As you notice, it hits the peaks when the app is on the first page in a category (which happened whenever I did an update) and it slowly drops down as it moves down to other pages.
With the latest update to the AppStore, the above behavior is no longer holds true (and I am glad it doesn’t). This is because the applications are now categorized according to the ‘Actual Released Date’ rather that the last updated date. This means…
- Developers cannot forcefully push out ‘dummy’ updates just to appear on the first page and increase their sales
- Competing Apps can now focus on real innovation in functionality rather than focusing on who pushes the update first.
- New Apps appear on the first page in each category for longer time (which gives them enough time to prove their worth)
- The first few days where the app is on the first page in a category will be the most profitable time from a developer’s stand point.
Overall, from an ‘AppStore as a platform’ perspective, this is a great move. Sure, developers will hate this as they cannot keep on pushing the updates every week and make more money. But from new application development point of view, this will spur innovation as developers will now be focused more on creating new applications rather than pushing out updates to the existing apps.
But this approach also has its own negatives. As updating an app doesn’t benefit the developers financially, they will focus on rolling out new apps rather than improving existing ones. This is bad for users.
Apple has learnt quickly that many developers are gaming the system and fixed it with the recent update. Sure, we will see many others gaming the system in different ways (like we see with Search Engines). I think Apple has to be on top of these to keep the innovation flowing in AppStore .