As a developer of iOS apps I regularly check the reviews on iTunes and App Store to get a sense of how apps are received. Fortunately my publisher client is not tied to adversing to produce their content – not to say that they wouldn’t enjoy advertising dollars but rather they see the iPad platform as a new medium for their message. What I do find troubling is that the new apps on the App Store are being blasted by negative reviews. This needs to be addressed because there is no way for a developer to rebut a bad review or to have a bad review removed.
Users are seeing the Newsstand Apps on the App Store, in iTunes and on their devices as free. However if they read the description – admittedly kind of hidden in the app’s description – they would find that most Newsstand Apps support paid content issues and subscriptions. The blame of this belongs to Apple and NOT the developers. The App store lists the price of the main app but does not display the cost of the subscriptions upfront, where it would be easier for users to find.
The other problem lies with the whole rating system that Apple provides. We have had over 50,000 apps downloaded and yet we have had less than 50 reviews of all of our apps. We’ve published about 25 apps among various clients. So the returns on the review process is pathetic and does not reflect what users think of your apps. The only measurable mechanism seems to be if users update the app as revisions are published. Also if you host some content on your web servers, statistics can be collect to indicate the use and repeated use of the apps.
New users do read the reviews and make decisions about whether to download an app. Negative reviews don’t help this cause. Most developers are small independent developers and very few are the actual mega publishers like Conde Nast. So the income generated from apps and development in general is meagre. It often barely covers the actual cost to develop apps. So please think twice before reviewing an app. The most valuable thing you can do is give a positive review of an app. The average developer is that guy sitting next to you on the bus. So if you like an app give it a positive review. This goes a long way to bolstering the developers confidence and supports the futire development of more apps.
The internet was started at the grass roots level and so in fact the whole personal computer industry. If users hadn’t spread the positive word about the original Apple computer then Steve Jobs and Steve Woszniak would not have succeeded – there would be no iPhone or iPad for you to read this story on your iPad.
Apple will eventually fix the problem with Newsstand 1.0. So in the meantime, read the apps description before you download it – caveat emptor applies to free apps as well. Sure if the app is craptastic go ahead and blast it but don’t write a negative review because someone is trying to make an honest buck.