As a result, many app developers and startups restort hiring shady companies to boost their app’s ranking by using bots (overseas computers) and human water armies (cheap labor) to download their apps. Both of the methods distort the App Store rankings, making it even harder for legitimate developers to get their apps into the top 50.
The real question we need to ask ourselves is: why is it more acceptable to spend huge sums to buy downloads via ads than using a bot farm or human water armies?
For indie app developers, bot farms/water armies are their only choice. They don’t have $200k or more to spend on marketing their apps, so opting to spend $8k on a bot farm or human water army is the one option they have if they want to compete on a level playing field.
If Apple takes away this option, the indie developers are going to have no chance to compete with the bigger players. They’ll either have to pray that Apple features their app or give up their rights to larger publishers in the hope of getting enough marketing dollars to push their app to the top.
But there is another choice for Apple. What if the app store banned all “paid marketing” for apps. I realize this will never happen, but it would allow the best apps to rise to the top on their own merits without any sort of manipulation.
Let’s face it, buying cheap ads for downloads isn’t that different paying humans or bots to do the work. The net result is the same thing — just more expensive.