Apple is not only tweaking its App Store rankings to downrank pay-per-install applications, it may be actively banning these applications from the App Store. According to Tapjoy, several developers within their network are receiving rejection notices from Apple because their applications feature a pay-per-install promotion.
This cross-application promotion lets users buy virtual in-app goods by downloading other applications instead of sending a payment. This practice has been criticized because it artificially boosts the download counts of applications. Users download these advertised applications because they want something for free, not because the app is desirable.
Tapjoy claims these incentive-based downloads are not directly prohibited by Apple's developers guidelines, but believes Apple is applying section 3.10 to apps within its network. Section 3.10 of Apple's developer agreement states:
Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program
Tapjoy defends its pay-per-install model by claiming the system is misunderstood. It acknowledges that campaigns may boost the downloads of some participating developers, but the overall model is beneficial to users, advertisers, and developers. Tapjoy supports the recent changes to Apple's ranking algorithm and is asking Apple to reconsider its unofficial ban on pay-per-install applications.