Apple killing App Store growth by numbers, focus on app quality

Apple has expanded its efforts to curtail the unchecked expansion of shovelware and scamware in the iOS App Store, focusing on keeping the store’s library attractive rather than simply aiming to maintain the biggest store in terms of raw numbers.

The company’s latest effort at curation has banned the practice of “incentivized app installs,” a gimmick used by some game makers to induce players to install specific other apps in order to continue playing. The practice is similar to “offer walls” promoted by free web games that ask players to participate in offers (such as buying a product or signing up for a trial service subscription) in order to obtain in-game currency required to continue game play.

Apple has banned the practice to prevent companies from artificially distorting the popularity of apps that are only being downloaded because of the incentives…With incentivized installs, one developer pays another an install fee (usually through a middleman pay-per-install network) to induce its users to download other apps. This is used to rapidly promote a new title into iTunes’ App Store rankings, a coveted position that results in exceptional visibility and exponentially higher sales…

While Apple initially advertised downloads and library size milestones for the App Store to note how fast it was growing and how far it was ahead of competing app markets, the company has already begun talking about other competitive metrics, particularly the billions of dollars it has paid out to developers…

Actual performance figures of mobile software stores demonstrate that the revenues earned by developers are not necessarily tied to the overall quantity of the devices running a platform (the installed base or market share), nor the raw number of downloads or library size…

Not only does this make sound business sense – it fits in well with Apple’s overall marketing style. If I was selling apps, it’s the way I would approach consumers. Short-term and in the long run.

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