On April 22nd, StealthBomber Premium (link opens iTunes), a side-scroller AppStore game by Jirbo, was the #1 paid app on the AppStore. On April 28th it was not in the top 500. On April 22nd, the day before it hit #1, it was #425. It never hit above the top 750 in the overall ranks of ANY other country's AppStore. Here's a graph of it's AppStore performance:
On April 28th, Snot Rocket the Game (link opens iTunes), an AppStore game to throw snot really far, by Jirbo, was the #4 paid app on the AppStore. On May 2nd it was not in the top 500. On April 27th, the day before it hit #4, it was #680. It never hit above the top 750 in the overall ranks of ANY other country's AppStore. Here's a graph of it's AppStore performance:
Of the Top 5 overall paid apps in the AppStore for each day of the past week, EVERY one shows a steady climb/plateau/decline from those top numbers. And EVERY one is in the top 100 of well over a dozen countries, some gracing the top 100 of over 50 countries. (Today's top 5 overall apps are: Angry Birds, The Impossible Game, Doodle Jump, 7.0 Megapixel Camera + Zoom, and Fruit Ninja. Here's a graph of 3 of their AppStore performances:
A quick glance at the charts of the last 20 or so apps from Jirbo shows surprisingly similar spikes, with a few having solid steady climbs.
This trend was first noticed on [ame="http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=53244"]TouchArcade[/ame], and brought to my attention recently. Jirbo is quick to point to their AdColony "in-app video ad technology," yet why would this only work for a couple days? The Register also noticed Jirbo adding a space to the beginning of all their app names a while back to move up the alphabetical list - and suddenly removing them later.
I emailed Jibro, a Los Angeles based company founded by Jonathan Zweig, and asked about the strikingly fortuitous rise of the apps. I received no response. A similar email from a random user on TouchArcade got a response which pushed AdColony as the reason behind the rise.
The consensus in the 5 pages of discussion on the TouchArcade thread is an idea Jirbo is somehow buying thousands of copies of their own apps to shove them to the top of the AppStore - an idea that may seem ludicrous, but really isn't that tough in practice. Assuming (possible, although a big assumption) you could get a few thousand unique iTunes accounts set up in advance (and that's not as hard as you think if you picture 50 employees, or a week's time), cycling through those with a few dozen people over a day would generate quite a few hits. And if it's all your money going into your app - you're only losing 30% of the spend (Apple's cut). That's not bad to put you at the top of the AppStore. The exposure and sales from that spot would well outweigh the initial spend.
Of course, maybe they just have a really high, unlikely percentage of apps which hit number one out of nowhere and then fall back off rapidly.
So is this... wrong? Well it certainly seems shady; could maybe even term it immoral. Or just savvy business? Either way, it doesn't seem Apple would let this go on long once it was brought to their attention.
What are your thoughts?