Melbourne developer criticises Apple as Telstra’s AFL app gets “featured” status ahead of independent studios

A Melbourne app studio has taken umbrage with Apple over its “featured” section in the App Store, saying it’s unfairly promoting Telstra’s apps ahead of those made by other independent developers.

This is only the latest complaint developers have made against the App Store and its ranking system, which criticisers say is based on algorithms that value downloads above quality.

The recent acquisition of app search company Chomp, led by Australian Ben Keighran, is rumoured to be part of a plan to address this.

Daniel Kagan, co-founder of Melbourne app studio SportsMate, developer of the highly popular Aussie Rules Live 2012 app, says during the past few weeks Apple has featured AFL-related apps in its “featured” section, but only apps from Telstra have been given prominence.

“Over the past four weeks, they’ve prominently promoted Telstra out of three weeks,” he told SmartCompany this morning.

“I don’t mind that so much, but when it comes down to the AFL or NFL categories, they’re not showing our app, they’re not showing the ESPN app, and that’s my problem. It should be open to everyone, and it should be fair.”

Kagan says he’s contacted Apple, but has received no response so far.

“I’ve had nothing. I know two guys at Apple who have been very communicative, even a week ago we had a question about an application fast-track. They emailed me 10 minutes later.”

“But with this, it’s nothing.”

Both Apple and Telstra were contacted for comment by SmartCompany this morning, but neither were available prior to publication.

When users open the App Store on their iPhones, on the “featured” section they are shown a few different tiles of apps Apple wants to promote. When they click on the “AFL” tile, they’re given a few different categories, including “NFL app” and “AFL App”.

But both these categories only contain one app each – and it’s made by Telstra. The other categories contain official team apps published by the clubs themselves.

Kagan says this isn’t fair, and is keen to highlight that he believes all types of AFL apps made by a variety of companies should be included, not just his own company’s programs.

“They’re not the type of company to justify themselves, and that’s fine, but some clarity would be nice.”

The management of the App Store has been a mixed bag. Although many developers have appreciated the attention Apple gives some apps, with highlight pages, “best of” lists and awards, the actual ranking of apps has been a problem as well.

Developers complain that downloads are often relied upon as a sole metric for ranking apps, rather than quality.

The ability to find good and useful apps has also become much harder, as the store contains more than 200,000 individual programs. The tech giant is rumoured to be working on a solution.

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