Today's edition of "How the AppGratis Turns" finds Business Insider reporting on a "leaked document" showing that the company supplies developers with estimates on where their app will land in the App Store rankings based on how much they're willing to spend. This contradicts what AppGratis CEO Simon Dawlat stated yesterday to TUAW sister site TechCrunch.
In Dawlat's statement, he said that "We've never been in the business of gaming the top charts or anything." Business Insider contacted Dawlat about a chart they received showing that an approximately US$100,000 buy with AppGratis would place an app in the top five in the US App Store; something that BI considers to be at odds with what Dawlat said.
Dawlat took a look at the chart published by BI and replied that "Today, mobile-media buying is this simple equation where the biggest industry players will acquire a certain number of installs through guys like AppGratis, Facebook Mobile Ads, Apple's iAd and all the other guys in order to reach their ranking objective."
In other words, what Dawlat thinks is business as usual in the mobile app-marketing world is what Business Insider and Apple appear to see as disrupting the system. AllThingsD featured a guest post by former OMGPOP CEO Dan Porter last week in which he said that App Store rankings are so important to Apple that the company strives to keep them fair and democratic. Apps like AppGratis are seen as artificially inflating rankings based on how much a developer is willing to pay, totally at odds with Apple's goals and probably what lead to the current AppGratis ban.
Well-known iOS developer David Barnard of App Cubby (@drbarnard) tweeted earlier today that "I don't get why BI and people linking to it make that chart out to be a bad thing or inconsistent with statements" made by Dawlat. Barnard noted that "many developers buy ads on launch day to help get that traction" in the App Store, essentially gaming the App Store rankings as well.
Ads in the Facebook iOS app highlight a variety of apps that are for sale in the App Store. Will Facebook eventually face the wrath of Apple's iOS developer guidelines? Guideline 2.25 states that, "Apps that display apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected." How Apple interprets and applies that guideline to apps other than AppGratis that are also used to promote apps needs to be clarified quickly.
For further details on this continuing story, a look at the previous posts about AppGratis is a good way to get some background.