This post is a response to Techy Jeremy’s posts: AppGratis Is Nothing More Than A Black Hat Marketing Company which recently got some traction on Hacker News.
Firstly Jeremy, Thank you for speaking up and expressing your deep concern that motivated you to write that post. This democratic speak-upness makes our society better and stronger. But I disagree with you.
I will respond to your points and tell you why they are incorrect.
**You said: AppGratis is a Black Hat Marketing company
I say: They are the StumbleUpon/Digg of the AppStore **
You gave an example of how value-less link-building spams the Google Algorithm into ranking websites with spammy links higher. The companies that build those spammy links are not providing any value to the consumer, Google or to the entire internet ecosystem. Its a pure business of spam. Only website owners who have ill-intentions will hire those link-building farms.
In case of AppGratis, 12 million consumers are voluntarily downloaded the AppGratis App so they can get the value of app reviews from a source that was not available in the Apple AppStore. You see when people go out and get something and do not get rid of it, that means that they want it. Clearly there is a need for it. Maybe, just maybe AppGratis is not providing quality reviews, that is not for you and I to judge. It’s on the 12 million users to judge. AppGratis is not a dictatorship, its not a monopoly. People can leave them the millisecond they decide. Unfortunately people tend to be incapable of leaving Microsoft, Apple or Google, the millisecond they decide, because they truly have a monopoly in some of the markets.
**You said: The existence of AppGratis affects the entire ecosystem of Apple App Store
**I say: Yes it does, but in a self correcting way
Lets think of all the websites out there on the internet, and people start bookmarking website on StumbleUpon, Digg.com, Reddit etc. The website owners who buy ads on any of those sites to promote their website certainly get advantage of higher exposure, and rightfully so. They bought exposure and they are entitled to that. Yes the added exposure will affect the entire website ecosystem. There might be other websites out there which may be better than the advertised websites. But that’s how the world works. A less talented person will get the job if she sends her resume to 100 companies and a more talented person will never get a job if she never posts her resume.
You have to realize that the 12 million users are willingly using AppGratis to find apps, download new apps and write their personal reviews of the apps they like. If the users HATE the promoted app, it will get more bad reviews than good ones. So in a way AppGratis is magnifying and speedifying the purification of the Apple AppStore since more and more people will discover and rate apps in the Apple AppStore faster.
**You Said: You pay AppGratis to promote your app.
**I say: So what’s wrong with that?
You pay Google to put your add on top of the search results, you pay TVs to put your ads, you pay the lobbyist to convey your points to the Government officials, Red Bull pays you to have your car painted like a Red Bull can.
If AppGratis are writing false reviews and do not have editorial integrity, then I am 100% with you on having such unethical behavior banned.
**You said: Your app skyrockets to the top of App Store’s charts. (When AppGratis promotes your app)
I say: That’s Apple’s Algorithm problem not AppGratis problem **
Its like Google banning Twitter or Digg or StumbleUpon for having sponsored tweets/posts because websites mentioned there get too many backlinks and popularity.
I am not a pro at Apple AppStore rankings but I am an SEO pro. I know that the search engines have openly said what are good ranking factors and what are not. Its a very open and mature space at this point. Apple AppStore ranking factors are still a closed door arena. The only factors I know that matter in Apple AppStore search are the search keywords matching with the App name and its description. What makes an app get featured in the Apple AppStore is still a blackbox. If Apple AppStore algorithm is taking into consideration AppGratis reviews, that’s a bad algorithm. (Its like Google taking into account Stumbles heavily in their ranking algorithm)
If AppStore is taking the following factors into consideration, its a good idea
- How fast, how many and what quality reviews are apps getting since its launch
Now the only power AppGratis has is to expedite the promotion of an app. The quality of review posted is strictly an opinion of a user, hence AppGratis is just a promoter and not a blackhat one.
You Said: They(AppGratis) promote your app inside their own app.
I say: So what’s bad about it?
Apple recently changed their policy to have no app promote apps inside their app. Apps can only promote their own apps.
I don’t have much to say here, I see Apple’s point here.
I do not user AppGratis, I do not own an iPhone anymore, and I am not against or for the removal of AppGratis from the Apple AppStore. What I am saying is that we need more and more companies that innovate and take the power away from the few and give it to the many. Despite its imperfections, democracy(power to the many, not a few) is the best way to sustain and grow any ecosystem. AppGratis is one of those players who did its role in de-monopolizing the Apple AppStore and I support the rebels who make our ecosystems innovative and progressive.