What Happened to Apple’s iTunes App Rankings?
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) appears to be tweaking the way that it determines rankings for its App Store Top Charts according to an analysis done by app marketing company Fiksu, reports TechCrunch. It now appears that an app’s user rating has a greater impact on the app’s overall ranking in the App Store.
Apple’s previous iTunes ranking algorithm seemed to give the most weight to apps with the highest download volume and velocity. In other words, lots of downloads in the shortest amount of time would typically boost an app’s ranking in the App Store.
However, in July the marketing analysts noticed that apps with low ratings were dropping in the App Store Top Charts, while highly-rated apps were climbing in the Top Charts. After carefully examining the data, the Fiksu analysts concluded that Apple had included user ratings and reviews into the overall App Store ranking calculations.
Besides the changes to Apple’s App Store ranking algorithm, Fiksu also noted that the rankings were updating less frequently. Ranking updates previously occurred every 15 minutes. Now the system appears to update rankings only every three hours.
The Fiksu analysts speculated that the slower update system may have been implemented by Apple in order to make it harder for app developers to artificially boost their App Store rankings. The slower update rate would give Apple enough time to identify anomalous downloading spurts that may indicate an app developer is manipulating their app’s ranking by using a robotic downloader.
Although it is unknown if these changes are permanent, it appears that the adjusted algorithm is improving the accuracy of Apple’s App Store app rankings. The new ranking algorithm also makes app developers more responsive to users’ complaints since poor ratings will now quickly drop an app’s overall ranking on the Top Charts.
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