Claim: Photograph shows a Chinese worker seated at a rack of cell phones, manipulating App Store rankings.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, February 2015]
Check out this photo that shows how Chinese workers are used to manipulate App Store rankings.
Origins: Nearly all app developers are plainly aware of the tremendous economic boost that comes from seeing one’s product make the top 100 ranking (or higher) on the App Store. So much so that the subsidiary business of charging developers a fee for boosting their app rankings is a thriving one:
Apple may have killed AppGratis for being too good at driving installs, but the “boost effect” of big marketing campaigns, in-app promotions in popular apps, and other somewhat less savory means of driving big download numbers is still very much alive and kicking.
To get top 10 in the U.S., you need 80,000 downloads, mostly in the previous 24 hours. Once you’re there, of course, Apple’s own “app discovery” effect kicks in as users see you featured on the front page of the app
Mobile app marketing company TradeMob — the largest app marketing platform in the
So based on 72 “boost” campaigns, TradeMob calculated the number of downloads required to hit the top
It turns out that those 80,000 downloads cost you $96,000 in the U.S. for a non-game
The image displayed above, showing a woman sitting at a rack consisting of several shelves holding dozens (if not hundreds) of iPhones, was posted to a Chinese-language micro-blog on
The App Store’s ‘Top Apps’ lists are well known to the smartphone-savvy public, but how apps make it into those lists is perhaps less understood.
The exposé, shown in the picture, displays a ‘Top App list worker’ in their work place, which features a simple shelf containing hundreds of iPhone 5Cs. In a room filled with such workstations from one side to the other, mobile phone labour takes place at an industrial level. Simply put, a worker downloads (and deletes and downloads, etc.) an app to boost its rank on the App Store, calculated by how many times the app has been downloaded. One worker can operate as up to
Apple has previously adopted measures to deter crank-boosting in order to ensure fair rankings for developers and users. In 2014 November, Apple introduced a 1 yuan strategy to drop the threshold for users to download apps, also intended to negatively impact the crank-boosting industry.
But as crank-boosting simulates genuine user activity, it is nearly impossible to detect or safeguard against.
Users accustomed to comparing and contrasting apps before download may be unknowingly swayed by crank-boosted apps that have purchased their celebrity. Such sneaky, industrious operations are tricky to break.
Some reproductions of this photograph were accompanied by another image that iClarified identified as a purported price list for app-boosting services:
Accompany[ing] the photo on some sites is an alleged price list for boosting your app ranking. Getting into the top 10 free apps costs RMB 70,000 (US$11,200), and keeping it there will cost you another RMB 405,000 (US$65,000) per week. The third column is said to be the monthly fee. Negotiations take place over the QQ messaging service.
While Apple has taken steps to counter the manipulation of App Store rankings, it’s quite difficult to identify manual downloads as being fake.
Although the photograph is obviously a fairly recent one (as indicated by presence of the
Last updated: 6 February 2015