iPhone Life magazine

iTunes App Store undergoing subtle but significant changes... with some difficulty

 If you've been paying close attention, as most developers do, to the App Store, you may have noticed some changes.

  1. New Releases only show BRAND NEW apps, i.e. version 1.0
  2. Updates are not included in the New Releases

This is potentially a good thing for users but there are some downsides.

The good news is, you won't have to search through old apps to find new gems.  It might also discourage developers from submitting minor updates just to be featured on the New Releases page.  That will also cut down on approval time as fewer apps need to be reviewed.

However, the unintended consequences could lead to apps becoming "stale".  With less incentive to update an app, a developer has little reason to enhance it, leaving users in the dust.  Developers will focus on new apps, perhaps even releasing the same apps under disguise, resulting in more work for Apple's reviewers, with little gain.  There will be an even more crowded App Store, with more duplicate apps.  However, Apple is very intent on promoting the number of apps, so they may not see this as a bad thing.

The real problem is the way this was rolled out in iTunes.  Over the past few days, iTunes experienced the following "bugs":

  1. For several hours, the "Top 100" rankings in each category were completely off.  Apps that had very little sales were suddenly ranked in the top tier, and consistent high sellers, like Pocket God, were off the charts altogether.  For a time, iGlowStickPro, a brand new app with little positive feedback became the #1 app on the appstore.  Apple fixed the rankings recently, but thanks to that brief stint at the top, iGlowStickPro is now actually a legitimate high seller.  That exposure led to significant sales.
  2. Developers have been able to set Release Dates into the future.  This allowed an app to be approved by Apple but not available for sale.  A movie company might want to time the release of an app with the release date of the movie, for example.  However, as of this writing, those apps are showing up.  And pushing down all the legitimately new releases.

One thing is clear.  As I've been saying for a long time in my App Store Success eBook and iPhone Life articles, developers cannot count on iTunes as a marketing medium.  Any promotion by Apple is great, but it cannot be the total of one's marketing efforts.

 

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is founder of No Tie Software, an app developer specializing in Ringtones and Sound FX including AutoRingtone.

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip, but over the years, Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62.

In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.