An interesting thread sprouted up in TouchArcade’s forums over the weekend entitled the “Biggest FRAUD in the Top 25 Free Ranking.” The thread spotlights a recently discovered problem with some app developers using seedy marketing services to move their apps up in the App Store rankings.

Walterkaman, who started the thread, said, “I came across this ad network which guaranteed to get my app into the Top 25 in the App Store for $5000.” The service uses bot farms to automatically download their clients’ apps to drive up their rankings. And not only does this work, but it works well…

Walterkaman points out that there are currently 8 apps (outlined in the above image) in the App Store’s Top 25 Free apps list using the aforementioned ad network. What’s worse is that Apple has known about this scam for a while, and has been extremely quiet on the matter. Until yesterday.

In response to the TouchArcade thread, and the media attention that followed it, Apple posted this message on its Developer site:

“Adhering to Guidelines on Third-Party Marketing Services

Once you build a great app, you want everyone to know about it. However, when you promote your app, you should avoid using services that advertise or guarantee top placement in App Store charts. Even if you are not personally engaged in manipulating App Store chart rankings or user reviews, employing services that do so on your behalf may result in the loss of your Apple Developer Program membership. Get helpful tips and resources on marketing your apps the right way from the App Store Resource Center.”

Apple has been putting forth quite a bit of effort over the last few months to clean up its App Store. Just last week we told you that the company was working to remove several misleading applications, and it’s also been actively fighting piracy.


  • Dan

    i’ve noticed most free apps are crap anyway, the ones that look interesting ask you to pay for in game credit. I stay away from those now.

    • Érico Gonçalves

      me too. loads of “free” apps are not free. you gotta buy some IAP to do so…

  • Matt Lewis

    I knew it! Most of those games are just crap like Dan said -_-

  • Anonymous

    500 000 apps and 499 900 of them are shit, that’s the truth … Apple need to do more to stop all the shit that’s in there now, too many pointless rip off apps or 100 apps that are an exact copy just with a different name … I personally think, that much like Cydia is now, too many people are jumping on the bandwagon of making apps and tweaks and so many are copies or shit and it is harder to find the good stuff, Quality not quantity !!

  • Érico Gonçalves

    since 2008 i have seen a lot of trash apps in the top free apps. never believed that it was 100% for sure!

  • Some great paid apps get lost in the crowd so they change their business model and make it free to “try” with an in-app to fully unlock it. I think this works fine since the app store doesn’t allow devs to have time trials (ex: 10 day free trial).

    We had to do that with our app King Camera and now were getting tons of downloads and awesome reviews. We’re even ahead on Instagram in Canada.

    So free doesn’t mean bad all the time even though most of it is. 🙂

  • Eric Cosner

    I just wish Apple would remove bad reviews that my competitor has written on my app’s review page! We’re not allowed to write reviews of our app but our competitors can write whatever negative thing they want!

    • Apple will say that as long as a person bought an app, they are free to write what they want, and im sure they dont want to get involved with tens of thousands of developer disputes like these….

    • Anonymous

      I suggest you do the same in a massive scale. Gather some Friends and do some damage.

  • Apple also didnt remove a lot of fake apps that didnt work as advertised.

  • Anonymous

    All Pokédex apps are gone…

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully they will start doing something about the “FALSE” reviews for some apps, thst are clearly made by the developer. You can tell when every single review in the app store for an app is by the dev when there is nothing but negative reviews, then you see a review here n there that talks about how great the app works, while 99% of the reviews say the

  • What is the ad network name?