×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Gaming the App Store

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the burning-your-knees-on-astroturf dept.

Cellphones 217

space_in_your_face writes "Want to boost the popularity of your latest iPhone app? Ask Reverb Communications! 'When it comes to winning in the App Store, this PR firm has discovered a dynamite strategy: throw ethics out the window. Reverb Communications, a PR firm that represents dozens of game publishers and developers, has managed to find astounding success on Apple's App Store for its clients. Among its various tactics? It hires a team of interns to trawl iTunes and other community forums posing as real users, and has them write positive reviews for their client's applications. ... Reverb claims that their clients have sold over $2 billion of product under their watch.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

217 comments

Astroturf... (4, Insightful)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193735)

When in doubt, lie, cheat, and steal. Strong ethics and morales will get you nowhere in this world kids.

Re:Astroturf... (4, Insightful)

davidphogan74 (623610) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193765)

It happens to everything from hotels to restaurants to ISP's. Why not for the App Store?

Re:Astroturf... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194065)

What's even funnier is that our cynicism ensures they will keep on doing business as usual. /metacynicism

Re:Astroturf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193775)

And then write articles about how you lied cheated and stole so that you can get your ass sued!

Re:Astroturf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194533)

get sued, but also get hired by all the other folks who want you to lie, cheat, and steal on their behalf... prolly still a net gain.

Re:Astroturf... (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193803)

Strong ethics and morales will get you nowhere in this world kids.

This appears to partially depend on (1) where you want to go and (2) what industry you are traveling in.

Sometimes, strong ethics and morals (not morales :) ) are necessary to get anywhere.

Re:Astroturf... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194203)

Where? No seriously, where? Is there any situation where an ability to fake strong ethics and morals is not equivalent?

Sure, nobody respects the obvious ambulance-chasing lawyer, but smarter lawyers can be plenty unethical and still look good to most everyone.

Also: the White House, circa 2001-2008. 'Nuff said.

Re:Astroturf... (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194277)

Ah, yes. There was corruption in government in the years 2001 to 2008. 1992 to 2000 and 2008-???, on the other hand, are free from corruption...

Anyway, politics aside; yes, the ability to fake ethics and morals works pretty well, I suppose. But morals and ethics definitely help when dealing with services. For example, if I run a home-computer-repair thing, I am guessing most of my customers are going to think much more highly of me if I am moral and ethical when I deal with them, try to get them good rates, etc. It may even improve my standing and gain more customers. "Hey, you can trust this guy, he's the real deal and helps a lot, but doesn't overcharge you like the Geek Squad."

That's just an example off the top of my head that I've had a small amount of experience with.

Re:Astroturf... (5, Insightful)

rthille (8526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194435)

Sincerity is the secret to success.

Once you can fake that, you've got it made!

Re:Astroturf... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194309)

Obvious Bush troll is obvious, but you think the Bush administration "look[ed] good to most everyone" or had the "ability to fake strong ethics and morals"?

If anything, that would apply to the current administration, while the Bush administration was about as good looking ethically or able to fake morals as a wolf in granny's clothing. Only the dumbest of dumbshit children are fooled.

You all brought this upon yourselves by not voting for Ron Paul.

Re:Astroturf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194915)

I was with you until you said "RonPaul".
(Score: -1, Sociopathic Libertard)

Re:Astroturf... (5, Funny)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193877)

When in doubt, lie, cheat, and steal. Strong ethics and morales will get you nowhere in this world kids.

Yes, this is true. At Petroleum Conglomerate (R), a friendly family owned company I know of, they have the strongest ethics. I think they are a real model that other companies should follow, with a strong core of values and a clear mission to improve the world through intelligent energy solutions. This is in stark contrast to the public image some would have you believe. In fact, they have teamed with Tobacco International (R) and with Weapons Systems Technological (R) to donate a percent of their proceeds to charities. I even heard that they are all having a 20% off sale until the end of the month. I know I'm going to order some oil, smokes, and a STA missile right now! You should too! (Offer may not be valid in all areas.)

Re:Astroturf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194147)

Ah, beautiful, based upon that excellent , obviously truthful and sincere review, I'm going to buy some "stuff"(TM) from this company and tell all my friends. Thanks, god bless America ( and their Canadian brethren ) , praise allah for the loaves and fishes.

Re:Astroturf... (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29195013)

You know, it's sad, but companies like that used to exist. Consider Kodak building Rochester, NY from basically nothing into the thriving city it is today. I swear, half the buildings in that city are named after them. They did a world of good.

No more, though. Now business schools teach sociopathy.

Re:Astroturf... (2, Funny)

future assassin (639396) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193961)

Especially when it comes to advertising to isheep. These will eat up anything that will give them better social status, even if its just for a day and they can feel better then their other isheep cohorts.

Re:Astroturf... (-1, Flamebait)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194035)

Hehehe.... iSheep. That's a pretty good one indeed.

Oh no, they know quality when they see it!

Marketing can be a pretty dirty business where the ultimate goal is to separate people from their money. As they say, a fool and his money part quickly. We exist in a culture of fools... angry fools when you try to tell them.

Re:Astroturf... (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194541)

Yes in the good old days we (Apple users) where a tight community.
Junk like this would be exposed in forum or low voted on popular download site/s.
Why, because the Apple community was so small and the number of developers tiny. Every app got used and people had time to reflect and share their thoughts.
On the phone side Apple is just Microsoft with better spin. The phone herd is ready for "bovine university". From the from the high-density forums to the one click profit profit floor.
It's not really a floor, it's more of a server grating that allows credit card numbers to slide through so it can be collected and exported.

Re:Astroturf... (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194907)

they can feel better then their other isheep cohorts.

What did their other iSheep cohorts do? I'm waiting. What exactly did their other iSheep cohorts do after the first set were able to feel better? Please finish the fucking sentence, it's very frustrating when you leave us hanging like this.

Perhaps the iSheep know the difference between then and than. You see everybody has a fault and knowing that you know also makes you feel better than your other language abusing cohorts.

Re:Astroturf... (1)

phoomp (1098855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194971)

And, there is nothing remotely new in this. Marketing agencies have had paid actors posing as real customers for ever. Most of Apple's "Switchers" were paid to say so. All of Microsoft's laptop shoppers were paid to choose a laptop running Windows and complain about Apple.

Yeah (2, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193743)

This will last.
We all know how Apple likes to have others in any sort of control over the App Store.

Not news (4, Insightful)

riceboy50 (631755) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193747)

Companies have been doing this at other places, like Amazon.com, for years. Buyers beware.

It could be illegal. (5, Interesting)

Albert Schueller (143949) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193847)

"Among its various tactics? It hires a team of interns to trawl iTunes and other community forums posing as real users, and has them write positive reviews for their client's applications."

Just so we're all clear, this is already illegal. If they are engaging in this kind of activity, then it's just a law enforcement issue.

Re:It could be illegal. (4, Informative)

TheRealDogByte (795919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194295)

In Europe, at least, this comes under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/ [europa.eu] Here's a more friendly synopsis: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/new-uk-law-criminalizes-stealth-marketing-techniques [seomoz.org]

Re:It could be illegal. (2, Insightful)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194705)

so if lying is a 'stealth marketing technique' what is stealing? a 'stealth purchasing technique'? I mean, cmon, let's call a spade a spade here...

Re:It could be illegal. (1)

RickRussellTX (755670) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194481)

Just so we're all clear, this is already illegal. If they are engaging in this kind of activity, then it's just a law enforcement issue.

Is it? Compensated endorsement doesn't always come with disclaimers. I don't know any of the law on the subject, but it seems like there is a pretty long history of "experts" offering compensated opinions without any particular disclaimers.

Re:Not news (4, Interesting)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194041)

I never got why amazon didn't limit reviews to people who had bought the book, (while it doesn't stop this it makes it a more costly business, I find it particularly surprising that a company with as much control over their system as apple don't limit reviews to app purchasers.

Re:Not news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194339)

I read this 4 times because of the unclosed perens... man, I need to get a better parser

Because it's a bad idea (4, Interesting)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194423)

That's not really going to stop an unscrupulous publisher or author. Let's say you want to astroturf Amazon a hundred times... so you buy your book a hundred times. That costs what... $1000-$2000? That's dirt cheap advertising. And if you get your royalties on the book sale and you get a copy of the book, which you can then sell back through Amazon again.

Meanwhile, a bunch of people who have bought your book, and would like to write about how much it stinks, can't. Because they bought it at a normal book store.

Re:Because it's a bad idea (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194795)

What if you need to have a purchase history of different books from different publishers? Yeah, it's also limiting the pool of reviewers but it'd also raise the cost of astroturfing.

Re:Because it's a bad idea (2, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29195011)

Hmmm... sounds like something that happened with L. Ron Hubbard's books and his followers.

Re:Not news (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194487)

I never got why amazon didn't limit reviews to people who had bought the book, (while it doesn't stop this it makes it a more costly business, I find it particularly surprising that a company with as much control over their system as apple don't limit reviews to app purchasers.

1) If someone is abusing reviews and ratings to harm a book's Amazon reputation, the author affected will likely contest and complain.

2) If someone is abusing reviews and ratings to make a book look better on Amazon, more people will buy it, and Amazon has more sales.

With the App store, 2 billion in sales is a lot of money for Apple. Why would they worry about such things unless there's a PR backlash?

Re:Not news (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194791)

Outside of buying it from them, how are they going to know you own the book? rip off the cover and mail it to them for authentication?

And if they limit the reviews to just people who bought it from Amazon, how many reviews do you think there really will be?

Re:Not news (2, Informative)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194871)

Amazon deletes legitimate unfavorable reviews. Why would you think they would care about the honesty of reviews? All they care about is sales. Fake positives are probably just fine with them.

Re:Not news (2, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194991)

Amazon shouldn't restrict reviews. There's simply too many other places to buy books, music, appliances, etc etc and the reviews of those purchasers have the potential to be every bit as valid and useful as people who bought it directly from Amazon. Assuming that "didn't purchase from Amazon" means "didn't actually buy the product" is naive in that case.

Apple, on the other hand, I agree with you on. So long as their system is so locked down that you basically can't buy things anywhere but through them, restricting reviews to purchasers makes perfect sense. There may be a very small number of people who got the app someplace else and has a legitimate review, but most likely these are people who never bought it.

The only question, I suppose, is whether or not blocking people who didn't buy the product is worth losing potentially legitimate reviews from people who didn't personally buy it but have legitimately used it. Those who use it on a friend's or companies' phone or the like.

And we're giving them /. publicity why? (2, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193769)

seriously, what the hell?

Re:And we're giving them /. publicity why? (2, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193863)

seriously, what the hell?

Do you suggest we pretend the evil people don't exist? I imagine the story is intended to out them as the scum they are, not give them publicity.
-Taylor

Re:And we're giving them /. publicity why? (5, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194001)

Do you suggest we pretend the evil people don't exist? I imagine the story is intended to out them as the scum they are, not give them publicity.

Trust me they are thrilled to get "bad" press like this. Anyone who hires spammers, SEO outfits, direct mail companies, shills and the like knows full well that these practices are objectionable to most of society. Picking one firm and giving them front page coverage, saying they're the worst of the worst, is just going to send hordes of unscrupulous paying clients to their doors.

Re:And we're giving them /. publicity why? (4, Funny)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194083)

You're 100% correct. Although I probably would never do this, the first thought that popped into my head was "Hey, I should bookmark this in case I ever get around to writing that app".

wow..what a concept (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193781)

So, cheating and lying to get ahead is news how?

Re:wow..what a concept (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194531)

When you can prove it, then it becomes news. Just as now, we can prove that you are a moron, and if you were of the slightest bit of importance, we would expect to see you as a story on the front page soon.

Reverb are a great company. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193809)

I think reverb are really great. you shodntt sey bad tings about them.

Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (5, Insightful)

Rabbitt (741607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193837)

Personally, I find the 0 - 3 star ratings more telling about an app than the 4 or 5 star (fanboy) ratings. In general, when I want to find out about a product, I like to read the negative to moderate reviews because they seem to be more honest about potential problems. What do you guys think/do?

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193871)

I think both. I find that the more specific they are about things I'm interested in, the more it turns out that's actually a good description about the product. Both negative and positive reviews can be faked for various reasons.

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193907)

I concur. A lot of the 0 ratings are just as worthless though, particularly for free software. I usually read what the person has to say, though. A lot of the time the people who rate programs low are doing so because they're too cheap to buy the full version. They whine about the limited utility of the lite version.

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (1)

TuaAmin13 (1359435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194197)

When I look at Newegg reviews or the like, I like to read the 2-4 range. 1 star is usually consisting of dumbasses who expect every product to work flawlessly every time. "Oh I had to RMA this. Props to Newegg for fast RMA." 3 Dead parts, yes please write a negative review. If your first product was DoA wait until you actually use the damn thing to write a review.

3's usually have a good mix of pros and cons, though I find some of the 4 star Newegg people are very articulate about why they rated 4 instead of 5.

5's are just people who had no real problem with the product. I want to know any potential problems that may occur, not that it ran as expected.

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (2, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193919)

I like to read the negative to moderate reviews because they seem to be more honest about potential problems. What do you guys think/do?

I do that as well. I'd rather hear what people don't like about a product I'm interested in than what I already know I'll like about it.

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193947)

But suppose an app were absolutely perfect. Then what happens?

To quote xkcd, "Somewhere out there is a company that has actually figured out how to enlarge penises, and it's helpless to reach potential customers."

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (4, Interesting)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193975)

What, you don't think they game 0 - 3-star ratings? That's delusional. They already caught on - you'll notice this a lot at Amazon, pay attention when you just sold yourself the book based on a low review. There are several tactics used, like "I bought it for (random-reason X) so IF you are in (really-small-niche X), DON'T BUY, it's meant for (as-written-on-label purpose Y)"

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194219)

It's not so simple. The negative views could be given by people trolling for competitors.

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194553)

Yeah but it's harder to come up with solid, verifiable negatives about a product. Since I primarily only care whether I can live with whatever downsides are present, negative "this sucks! i hate it!" reviews are worthless, while "this feature doesn't work as intended" I can do further research on and see whether this is a one-off case or common.

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (3, Insightful)

HighFalutinCoder (1536035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194247)

I like to read some of the realistic sounding reviews at every level. The crazies go both ways, and as long as you can pick them out you can get a pretty good overview of the product.

As nerdy as it is, I think the real reviews of a product tend to make a normal distribution (bell curve).

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (3, Interesting)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194445)

Personally, I find the 0 - 3 star ratings more telling about an app than the 4 or 5 star (fanboy) ratings. In general, when I want to find out about a product, I like to read the negative to moderate reviews because they seem to be more honest about potential problems. What do you guys think/do?

Some reviews are of a sort that you know the reviewer is simply happy to now own a program that does something in particular. They'll say something like: I LOVE Poker Player 2010 because I am now REALLY PLAYING POKER!!! These are generally useless. They offer no detail except the enthusiasm of the user for being able to actually use the program to get basic functionality out of it.

There's other reviews that you know are AstroTurf. You can usually tell that they are "on-message" and scripted. The features that they "love" are the same features that are bullet points in the literature released by the developer. Sometimes they even put in some "warnings" but these "caveats" aren't really caveats, but rather rephrases of the disclaimers that you could have read in the Terms of Service or EULA anyway. For example:

"This app is excellent in all possible ways, but in the interest of fairness I need to point out that, operating a vehicle while texting is bad!"

On the other hand, there are idiots out there who will cut down a perfectly functional app simply because they had expectations for the app that were completely out of scale with what was even advertised, or even supported. This often happens also when the users demand features that there was really no reason to expect there to be in the first place.

To get to the heart of the matter. Some people also feel the need to say something negative because they feel that they have to be "balanced". This sort of "balance" is not what you are looking for. You are looking for an approximation of the truth of people's experiences, not the image they are trying to present of their own fairness and sophistication.

Do NOT ignore the 5 star ratings, just because of enthusiasm and turfers out there. A good app is going to get 5 star ratings and it will deserve it. The idea that a middling rating implies a better quality review means you' are generally too lazy to read all the reviews and think about them. If you apply the right criteria and your own skepticism to all reviews, you will get the right balance out of them, no matter what the rating. Ignoring good reviews in favor of middling ones means that you are letting the star level rate your expectations just as much as if you blindly accepted the 5-star ratings.

In general, discard the astroturfers and perpetually angry fringe, and look for reviews that cover the functionality that you find important to you. Look for reviews that tell you what they did to get a certain result. I know of more than one cheap-ass app I have used in my life where if I used some obscure feature, it would crash, but as long as I never cared about that feature, the app worked beautifully for all I needed it to do. That app would certainly not be a 5-star, but it certainly might rate a 4-star from me if the rest of it was truly useful. More importantly, it was worth getting as long as I was aware of its Achilles' Heel.

you've missed the point (1)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194453)

1000's of new apps get added to the appStore every day. How do you think people distinguish the good the from bad? They don't look through each one checking if they have 3 star ratings or whatever. They just go to the top rated list and if you're app is not on that list you don't get noticed, then your app never gets on the other list, the top selling list. So, then there is no way that your app gets any publicity, so then you app dies. That's why people want to pay to have fake reviews.

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194577)

Personally, I love the one start ratings, that claim how great this app is. Those are the people who i trust.

Re:Who actually cares about the "good" ratings? (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194597)

Personally, I find the 0 - 3 star ratings more telling about an app than the 4 or 5 star (fanboy) ratings. In general, when I want to find out about a product, I like to read the negative to moderate reviews because they seem to be more honest about potential problems. What do you guys think/do?

I think a lot of reviews on the 5 star and 1 star polar ends are given after a first impression. The product arrives, it works and is a new toy, the person is excited, 5 stars. Conversely, person can't get it to work immediately with their setup, 1 star. Neither are very useful, which is why I always wait to review a product until I've had it for a while (and unfortunately end up forgetting to do so most of the time).

If I'm looking at reviews, chances are I'm looking for a product with specific things in mind, among a sea of similar products. I look at both high and low ratings that show thought and give input on things I'm specifically interested in. I shop for value items rather than high end lines, so I don't usually consider 5 star ratings unless they specifically have given the extra stars in as a nod to the quality/price ratio. No product is perfect, especially at the low end of the price range, so earnest reviews will always have some thoughtful criticism.

The magic eight-ball says... (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193851)

...I sense visits from the FTC and BBB in this company's future.

Re:The magic eight-ball says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194341)

BBB is like the BSA ... powerless to do anything as neither is a government agency.

Modern snake oil salesman (3, Insightful)

shemp42 (1406965) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193875)

How is this new? This has been going on long before computers. The snake oil salesman used to do it all the time, they would have somone in the crowd claim fantastic results to sell something that was worthless. What you mean I can't believe every review posted about a product or application? Critical thinking.... what is that? Idiocracy is happening already, humankind is doomed!

Re:Modern snake oil salesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193971)

Yep, it's called a shill.

Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Dramatica, TVTropes, and probably Uncyclopedia ALL cover it.
I guess /. wanted to join the party.

Re:Modern snake oil salesman (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194061)

Obviously, if an app has 10 lousy reviews and 200 near identical 5STAR++++WOUULDBUYAGAINs, it takes approximately the thinking skills of a wombat scientologist to figure out who the shills are.

Assuming, though, a slightly more competent brand of shill, there isn't any magical "Critical thinking" that will allow you to distinguish between the real and the fake with any accuracy. You could fall back on the approach of just ignoring all feedback, and describing your nescience as "critical thinking"; but that just hands victory to the astroturfers.

If you are selling crap, you'd prefer to make it smell of roses; but, failing that, just making everybody believe that everything smells like crap works almost as well.

Astroturfers are often surprisingly artless(as when Sony's PSP astroturf domain wasn't even registered anonymously, WTF?); but a strategy that relies on them being universally or routinely so is deeply flawed. It's fun to play at(and where possible actually be) more of a tough minded critical thinker than the crowd; but it isn't actually a very good strategy.

More (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29193925)

and more kdawson FUD?

It's not SEO, it's ASO... (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29193963)

App Store Optimization. If you pronounce the acronym right, it sounds like "asshole".

Comments/ ratings almost useless (1)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194029)

I put very little weight on either comments or ratings on the app store. I outright ignore 1 and 5 star ratings; the number of times I've seen comments raving about the app being the best in its category or whatever yet having a 1-star rating is ridiculous. Seriously how do you screw up understanding how a 5-star rating system works?

Then we have mmorpg trolls leaving tons of 5 star comments with their character codes for alliances and such; waste of space and tells me Jack about the app itself.

If a review is 2, 3, or 4 stars then I pay more attention to what they wrote.

$1 apps (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194081)

When you hear about someone making $1.2million from a trivial airport game you can't help but cringe. Apparently there's 1.2 million people* out there who don't think anything about blowing $1 on a game.. literally, $1 has no value to them. This shouldn't be very surprising, after all, they bought an iPhone and there's plenty of phones that are at least $1 cheaper than the iPhone and just as good.

This is *exactly* the situation that economists warned about a century ago when selling stock to the public became common place. If you have the means to interact with millions of people to whom $1 has no value you can easily get your company valued way above what it should be. And that's how market fail.

* actually, it's more than that, Apple takes a massive cut of the pie too.

Re:$1 apps (2, Funny)

Delwin (599872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194179)

Apple takes 30% so for someone to make $1.2m they need to sell $1.56m in games. For $1 apps that's one and a half million but for a $10 game that's only 150K - which is barely into 'hit' territory for box shelf games.

If you have a game that's good and garners decent amounts of attention then you'll make millions on the iPhone. Thus the PR firm - to make sure your product gets noticed.

Full disclosure I work for a game studio that's doing iPhone games. No we don't use a PR firm as our products are good enough we don't need to.

Re:$1 apps (1)

Conduit (691925) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194211)

Why do you think an iPhone game shouldn't be worth at least $1? What do you think it should be worth? Someone spent a couple of months of their time developing that application, I for one am very glad there's finally a platform where their creativity can be rewarded by cash going directly into their hands rather than the hands of some publisher or other 3rd party that did very little to produce the product. I think you're being a snob to state that spending $1 on a game that entertains you for hours is frivolous. Did you buy a coffee today? You could have just drank free water you wasteful spender. What a preposterous statement.

Re:$1 apps (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194337)

Sigh. The question is, how is a trivial airport game worth $1.2 million.

Re:$1 apps (1)

Delwin (599872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194427)

It's not. It's worth $1.

The magic of the Information Age however allows removal of barriers to entry and nearly free ($0.30 per copy) publishing and distribution. This allows the $1 game to be bought by anyone who thinks it's worth $1 to them.

Re:$1 apps (1)

Conduit (691925) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194429)

Because it's fun and 1.2 million + 30% people think it's worth $1? How is it not worth $1.2 million? If you think it's easy to pull off a Flight Control success on the App Store, you should do some more research. There's a lot more duds and guys making $3 - $4 a day than there are Flight Controls. Are you arguing for a cap on what any one person's couple of month's worth of effort can earn them?

Yeah, but seriously... (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194271)

So what is the value of a dollar? A beer? Nope. A newspaper? Not the New York Times. A pack of gum? Not the fancy "winter-blast" chiclet kind. A comic book? Not in years. Paperback book? Sure, if you can get seven more dollars. Let's see... that leaves us with a can of Coke (but not a bottle), or maybe a candy bar (but not the king sized kind).

But let's raise the stakes a little bit... what's the value of a dollar when you're stuck in an airport? Anyone? Anyone..? So if you can kill a four hour layover in an airport by spending $1 to download a "trivial airport game," I'd say that sounds like a marker for market success, not failure.

Shrill Shills Thrills and Spills (2, Interesting)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194151)

It's interesting that the idea of shills hasn't been better represented in the Internet business model. The psychology behind shills and mob motivation and mob behaviour is advanced compared to Barnum's dictum that "there's a sucker born every minute" and the barkers and shills who worked his midway freak shows. The ideas contained in the submission are child's play compared to the opportunities for exploitation the Internet offers. Corporations are legal entities that play hide and seek with morality, ethics and the law by Wizard of Oz advertising pyrotechnics and repeatedly playing off the tribal sentiments of group think individuals who turn a blind eye, (and lose an I), to the wrong doings of a hierarchically higher class entities. There's an anthropological idea about tribal guilt that manifests itself in victims found with inordinate numbers of wounds thought to have been inflected by multiple perpetrators with the idea of spreading the guilt of the crime over the tribe. Something similar functions in mobs and fanboi, product idolation. We hide in the tribe. We're secure in the tribe and we protect the image of the tribe to ensure our own protection. If you can speak for the tribe, or pretend to, and thus motivate the tribe groupthink then you're a winner, or, your product is.

Don't just verify one place (1)

ParanoiaBOTS (903635) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194199)

Whenever I am buying something online, I always research it. I read forums, sites with reviews, and blogs. Typically you will get everything from "this sucks, don't ever buy it, touch it, or think about it again" to "this thing is the best ever, it gave me true happiness!" The truth will lie somewhere between. Do your research, find that gem of truth that is common across all sources. But then again it is only $5.99

Internally it's called "viral marketing", (4, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194209)

and it's an old hat with pretty much every professional marketing company. Either employees are asked to post things, or they hire some external people, like in this example.

I have seen it, I have even been asked to do it*, and from what I know, it's pretty much an expected standard.
Music, games, books, websites, other products, you name it...

The only difference is, that real professional companies have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about it, and the only person asking is your direct boss, in private.

___
* and lied about actually doing it, like most people in the company at that time, because half the staff just got fired because of management incompetence

How about negative reviews? (3, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194273)

One thing I've noticed at the App Store is that a lot of perfectly fine apps get a lot of 1 star reviews for ridiculous reasons. For instance, a review might state that the app does what it claimed to do flawlessly, that it is useful, and the best app in the category--but the reviewer also wish it had feature X (which no other app has), and the reviewer then gives it just 1 star, apparently for this "missing" feature.

This doesn't appear to be an isolated problem. Nearly every very good app I've downloaded has had a lot of these kind of negative reviews.

I wonder if anyone is purposefully trying to game the store by posting negative reviews on competitors, too?

Re:How about negative reviews? (5, Interesting)

iamflimflam1 (1369141) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194529)

Yes they do. My own app Sudoku Grab got a review from someone saying that a competing app was much better. Out of interest I checked to see what other apps this reviewer had reviewed.

He'd reviewed 6 other competing apps, all of the reviews suggested that customers should buy this other app instead.

There's not much you can do about it, just have to hope that customers are savvy enough to see through these marketing tricks.

Re:How about negative reviews? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29194615)

Negative reviews on competitors happens all the time. Either that, or they just go through and "vote up" all of the reviews that are 1-star.

It's a bit ridiculous.

TFA updated with response from Reverb (2, Informative)

Milkyfresh (1041360) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194279)

Reverb would like to clarify a few items regarding the MobileCrunch story about our agency that ran this weekend. The article âoeCheating the App Storeâ is unfortunately full of emotion, logical holes and for the most part untrue. Here are the facts:

1. The writer forgot that Reverb Communications is not just a public relations agency, but is also a sales and marketing agency. Reverbâ(TM)s marketing department has interns that do social viral marketing.

2. Our interns do not post reviews on iTunes. Our employees donâ(TM)t post fake reviews. Itâ(TM)s common for Reverb team members to purchase the games and write a review in iTunes using their personal accounts AFTER they have played the game. In many cases Reverb has provided technical feedback and gameplay guidance to the app developer, long before these games hit the App Store, so we know these games extremely well. We also like these games or we wouldnâ(TM)t take them on as clients. The entire list of iTunes accounts in your story are from staff members who have played the games.

3. 1 person=1 iTunes account=1 credit card. We do not have hundreds of accounts to âoetrawlâ through iTunes â" itâ(TM)s simply untrue. We have 10 staff members who choose to post on the games when and if they have played the game. We have to buy and play the game in order to have an opinion.

4. This same writer contacted several of our app store developers wanting negative comments from them regarding Reverb. They all gave positive feedback, but the writer left this aspect out of the story.

Re:TFA updated with response from Reverb (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194863)

We do not have hundreds of accounts to âoetrawlâ through iTunes â" itâ(TM)s simply untrue. We have 10 staff members who choose to post on the games when and if they have played the game. We have to buy and play the game in order to have an opinion.

(We do not, however, deny crowdsourcing people with their own iTunes accounts and giving them the software free in exchange for a positive review. We just won't mention any such obvious possibilities.)

This same writer contacted several of our app store developers wanting negative comments from them regarding Reverb. They all gave positive feedback, but the writer left this aspect out of the story.

...because they're customers of the company, and of course they're happy, if it works, which doesn't cast any light on the scrupulousness or lack thereof of the whole operation.

The "Trick" that annoys me... (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194349)

Aside from all the "MMORPG" games that turn out to be nothing but graphic skins over the exact same stupid mafia game; the most annoying thing is the way people will take the free crApps that they are trying to give away and bump the price up to $0.99 and back down to free to get it to hit peoples "Newly free" filters.

There are decent apps that drop their price for a while, but seeing an app marked "Free" (which always means some weak broken version not worth downloading) as "On sale" is annoying.

I'm pretty sure it's just to get into apps like "PandoraBox" that have a "Newly discounted" category.

Liars (3, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194385)

Reverb claims that their clients have sold over $2 billion of product under their watch.

I flatly don't believe them.

Why would anybody hire them? Why would you believe and have dealings with a company whose product is explicitly stated as lying and deception?

SEO (1)

hntd (1607149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194645)

This happens a lot in companies who specialize in SCO. They pay their employees to meet a "quota" of postings on website placing links on web pages relevant to a search query so that thus the google results are boosted. The CEO of the company once told me that there is such a thing in his mind as a "smart and legal spam."

I knew it... (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29194833)

I knew it was good idea to get a Android phone...

*checks* ... crap, it seems this happens in the Android market too...

If they are really naughty they would have those interns give competing apps a low rating, this is not something they would admit.

How is this not fraud? (1)

sheepofblue (1106227) | more than 4 years ago | (#29195091)

How is this not fraud? It is intentional deception for profit. They should go to jail. The execs, the boss and the interns.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...