The App Store might be only a few days old, but it has already proven itself to be a viable and potentially lucrative outlet for developers. With so many apps (and more being added all the time) for sale, getting exposure is extremely important if a developer wants to stand out in the crowd. Unsurprisingly, the market, especially in the games sector, is very competitive. But is the quest to compete leading to some unfair, and ultimately consumer unfriendly practices? Note: All of this data refers to the U.S. App Store, I'm unsure of the situation in other parts of the world.
We got a tip from an iPhone developer, who requested anonymity, about some shady techniques being employed by some developers to obtain a higher app ranking in the App Store. As it stands right now, if you choose to browse the App Store in iTunes, not using the search but using the "All iPhone Applications" category, apps are visually displayed in alphabetical order. Well, they are supposed to be displayed in alphabetical order. As it stands right now, only five of the 21 titles displayed on the first page actually fit that criteria -- and they are the last five apps on that page.
Some developers have figured out that adding a symbol or space before the game name will promote the app to the first page. Thus, Solitaire City, which alphabetically should be on page 26, is the very first app listed in the store. Other tiles like Whack the Groundhog, $0.99 Sudoku and 'ColorRise 3D' are all listed on the first page, instead of where they should be cataloged.