(Un)believable App Store reviews

September 8, 2009
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Anonymity of any kind always merits a yellow flag, if not a red one, and it’s causing problems on Apple’s booming App Store, the online site where applications can be downloaded for the popular iPhone.

Increasingly, anonymous comments about the 65,000 applications are coming under fire for being, well, less than authentic.

The blog MobileCrunch reported late last month that a PR firm is ginning sales for its app developer clients by hiring interns to write positive reviews while posing as actual users.

The comments have never been pure, but, as Business Week reports, the pressure to score big hits is rising as the list of potential applications dwindles.

How do you feel about anonymous comments at the App Store—or anywhere else for that matter? How much stock to you place in them?
 

 

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  • Great piece, Norm! Good comments are good comments whether they are manufactured or not. Keep in mind, competitors can make comments in the same forum and often do. I value comments because descriptions of the app that Apple allows rarely describe user experience. I also think most people can detect a line of BS when they see it. A teenager is likely not going to write on and on about a waverunner game. So as long as what interns write is accuratt doesn't even qualify as spin in my book.
  • But hasn't this been the case at most online retailers for years? It's truly a "buyer beware" situation when it comes to believing any online product reviews or ratings. It's certainly no better at Apple's Itunes store; most of the music "reviews" read like they were written by a major label PR wonk.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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