The system of App Store dynamics is a peculiar beast. The top charts in the App Store contribute massively to the sales of an app — unfortunately however, some developers try to be sneaky or use underhand tactics to get in the top 25. This has led to a few problems, such as users buying an app based on its position in the rankings rather than doing thorough research beforehand. These apps can then be catapulted into success, whilst customers get angry and demand refunds.
Websites have tried in the past to spread the word about quality apps — ourselves included — and whilst this is very effective, only a relatively small portion of news and review site readers scour older articles. This leads to apps being hot for a while but sales cooling down very quickly.
Another issue which really affects us geeks and app lovers is how best to share the love we have for quality software when it comes to telling people about a fantastic app. I’m privileged; I’m a writer with a large (and handsome) audience: I can write a post explaining the benefits of an app and my words will contribute to app sales. I’m lucky.
But most people aren’t.
Most people have a relatively small number of followers on Twitter and some high school friends and work colleagues on Facebook. Constantly recommending apps to a smaller audience of friends and family can lead you to be that one guy at a party who’s always trying to convince the host that his sound system would be so much better if he’d only upgrade to an external DAC.
And nobody likes That Guy.
So, what do we do?
We’ve outlined that our favourite apps aren’t always the ones filling out the top charts. There’s certainly enough people out there who want to make a difference and go out of their way to tell folks about great apps. Developers would love to be catapulted into the high scores list, too. Here are the problems we need to solve:
- How can new users find great apps for their new iOS devices which aren’t currently in the news or top charts?
- How can users who love their apps help developers really spread the word and share the software they adore, without aggravating friends or family who don’t want to be bothered?
- How can developers of great apps get maximum exposure and increased sales from this sharing, when the top charts can often be filled with less-than-brilliant apps?
These three problems are what the new service AppBump is trying to solve.
Created by the folks over at AppAdvice (who certainly know their stuff when it comes to apps), AppBump is the latest feature addition to Apps Gone Free, their universal iOS app which recommends paid apps which have gone free for a short while. Now, whilst some might find this idea slimy: “Developers shouldn’t have to give their apps away!” “Would people really go to those lengths to save a few dollars?!”, it can’t be denied that Apps Gone Free is a success so far.
With a solid base of over a million users and several hundred thousand active daily, current Apps Gone Free enthusiasts are trying out dozens of apps every day which aren’t in the Top Charts or “What’s Hot” lists. The apps recommended in Apps Gone Free were historically scoured and sorted by AppAdvice writers, but with Apps Gone Free 2.0, there’s a change. Now users get a say.
AppBump is the next step. This video explains the service:
Apps Gone Free, as of today’s 2.0 update, includes the ability for users to “Bump” an app they’re interested in or recommend. If enough people “Bump” an app, the AppAdvice team will reach out to the developers and let them know that the community wants to Bump an app up the charts. By Bumping an app, the Apps Gone Free user is pledging to download the app once it’s gone free to help the developers gain exposure.
I’ve tried this Bump feature out already by searching for an app I’d love to support but haven’t got around to buying yet (PDFpen for iPad) and pressing the “Bump” button. This shows I’ve expressed my interest in helping PDFpen rise up the charts — if enough people also show their interest, an AppAdvice team member will contact Smile to ask if they’d want to try going free and receiving a large number of downloads, helping their chart position.
Skeptical of this idea? What if I were to tell you that it’s already being tried? And it appears to be working.
AppAdvice beta testers including myself have already Bumped ReaddleDocs, (normally priced at $9.99). Readdle agreed to go free, dropping the price to free for a day — they’ll take advantage of the chart boost inspired by the price drop. Readdle are the AppBump launch day partner, going free at 6AM PST.
I’ve chatted with Mahmoud Hafez, the co-founder of AppAdvice.com, and here’s what he has to say:
- We have never, and never will, feature an app that pays us to be there. This idea is in staunch contrast to huge paid listing services which charge handsomely to feature apps. This is not a get rich idea for us, we are trying to really solve the app discovery/ranking issue AND IT ALL HAPPENS FREE FOR DEVELOPERS. These are not scam “deals” we are being paid for, at all.
- AppsGoneFree 2.0 is being released today and will feature this AppBump, which we are pushing very hard. We hope you’ll join us too in making this movement a reality.
- AppsGoneFree 2.0 is now a universal app and is launching in 9 languages. Furthermore, it’s not just a translation: each language corresponds to different human writers (AppAdvice.com app experts) who are picking the best apps in those markets. So the recommendations and apps being “bumped” are relevant for each locale. The current languages (more coming soon) are: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, & Japanese.
Power to the people
Do you, like me, think this service could well work to solve the problems outlined above? Will Apple have anything to say to the contrary? It all seems above-board, with no questionable goings-on or fees for developers. My favourite part of AppBump is the beauty in which the power is in the hands of the users.
It’s certainly hard to deny that it’s already working for ReaddleDocs. The real test, however, will be what real users make of the service. Will Bumping apps be the next big thing? Will an AppBump skyrocket apps into the top 10, or will the bump up the charts not be noticeable? Or, like me, will you just buy apps you like and care less about getting a good deal? Time will tell.
Power to the people, people.