Developers for the iPhone have noticed a shift over the past week in how Apple is computing app rankings in the App Store. The company hasn’t publicly revealed what’s changed, but the huge climbs some well-established apps have made, and the corresponding drops, suggest that an important part of Apple’s ranking algorithm has been modified, and there are few theories out now as to just what’s going on.
The most plausible explanation is that, rather than going by downloads alone, Apple’s now considering how much use apps get post-install. This could explain the sudden rise in the rankings of apps like Netflix, which wouldn’t get as many downloads as apps that don’t require a subscription to use, but sees its share of heavy use from those who do install it, month after month.
Apple’s doing more to curb the influence of sheer number of downloads alone, as it’s no longer approving apps featuring “offer walls” which encourage users of one app to download another in order to receive some sort of in-app bonus. The company has been responding to developers submitting such apps with rejection notices explaining that it doesn’t want apps that try to exert “excessive influence in the listing order or ranking on the App Store”. The message is clear: an app should rise to a high rank by being a quality title that gets used over and over again, not by being a throw-away app that’s only installed to unlock a reward.
Source: Inside Mobile Apps