For a Small Fee

There’s been increasing talk about how unscrupulous developers have gamed the App Store in recent weeks. Typically, shady devs will submit apps to the store that have similar names and app icons to top ten titles and in the confusion (and perhaps the additional hype from all the attention) users download these “scam” apps and push them ever higher. For honest developers who play by the rules, it’s a serious problem, and one that Apple needs to do a better job addressing.

There’s another way to get your app into the App Store’s Top Ten list however. With enough money, and a faulty ethical compass, you too can be sitting pretty atop the mountain of App Store competition. This morning the Iconfactory’s webmaster account received the following email from an address in China. The person (or persons) purported the ability to get your app to the top, fast. We were just one address of perhaps 100 or more in the “To” field including lockerz.com, skout.com, tumblr.com, okcupid and many more. Why they didn’t bcc the list is beyond me, but at any rate for a mere $10,000 USD, using thousands of “legally” registered iTunes accounts, they will download your app and help boost it into the top ten. How long it stays there just depends on how much you’re willing to pay.

We have large quantity of USA ,UK,CA itunes accounts, registered legally, we can promote your free app in the US, UK, CA store.Don’t waste time in promoting,leave it to us! We are professional team for you and we are the most powerful team for app promotion in China.

10,000 downloads in one store, need 1000USD

If you want the ranking, here is the price list for weekday only,please check:
—————iPhone app———————
US top10 24 hours 10000USD
US top10 48 hours is 15000USD
US top10 3 days is 20000USD
Each additional day the need to increase $ 5,000, up to 5 days,only for weekday

UK top10 24hours 3000USD
UK top10 48hours 5500USD
UK top10 3days is 8000USD
Each additional day the need to increase $ 2,500, up to 5 days,only for weekday

CA top10 24hours 2500USD
CA top10 48hours 4500USD
CA top10 3days 6500USD

————–ipad app only for separate app———————
US top10 24 hours 4000USD
US top10 48 hours is 6000USD
US top10 3 days is 8000USD
Each additional day the need to increase $ 2,000, up to 5 days,only for weekday

UK top10 24hours 1200USD
UK top10 48hours 2200USD
UK top10 3days is 3200USD
Each additional day the need to increase $ 1,000, up to 5 days,only for weekday

CA top10 24hours 1000USD
CA top10 48hours 1800USD
CA top10 3days 2600USD

Weekend day, subject to 20%

The problem of scam apps seems like a relatively easy one to solve compared to this sort of App Store gaming. Apple should simply do a better job identifying and rejecting offending scam apps at the review level. But with enough legitimate iTunes accounts there’s no real way for Apple to identify “fake” downloads from real downloads and keep bogus apps from rising to the top. Perhaps if it happens often enough Apple can develop algorithms to help identify offending accounts and close them, but I’m skeptical.

It seems clear that a re-work of the entire top ten system is in order, and not just because of the recent rash of scamming. Some apps like Angry Birds can stay atop the Top Ten list for months on end making it harder for other awesome, smaller apps to see the light of day. Perhaps Apple’s recent purchase of Chomp will help solve the problem of discoverability, but until then unfortunately there will always be shady individuals willing to prey on people’s greed and desire to succeed.

UPDATE: Matt Ryan over on LockerGnome reports a possible explanation for how these app “promoters” can secure thousands of iTunes accounts to artificially inflate apps – they steal them. Both Ryan’s PayPal and iTunes accounts were hijacked and then used to download copies of an app called iMobster. It should come as no surprise that when the promoter says he uses thousands of “legally registered” iTunes accounts, he means it except they’re not his. So not only do devs fork over tens of thousands of dollars, they’re most likely doing so to criminals who hijack legitimate iTunes accounts and milk them dry until they are caught and shut off. Alarming to say the least.

Beijing Takes Home the Gold

I’ll admit that I never really got into the 2004 Athens Olympics. If I watch the games at all, they’re usually the winter variety, but this summer something is different. The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics have sparked the interest of people across the globe and grabbed hold of me like never before. There are a number of great things being done by the host country, the IOC and NBC’s coverage that have set these games apart from any I can remember. Here’s a list of just some of the things I’ve throughly enjoyed this time around. Bravo Beijing!

The Opening Ceremonies

Right from the start I knew the opening ceremony of the 2008 summer games was going to be something special. I distinctly remember how disappointed I was with the start of the 2004 Athens games and so I almost didn’t tune in this time. Boy, am I glad I did. The artistry, depth and intricacy of the spectacle set the bar far above anything I’ve ever seen. From the huge animated scroll, to the wonderful 2,008 Tai Chi demonstrators all moving in unison, Beijing did the Olympic tradition proud and put on a visual feast that won’t soon be forgotten.

Incredible HD Coverage

The Beijing games are the first Olympics I consider to be truly broadcast in high definition. There are hundreds of hours of HD coverage from NBC and her sister networks and it is simply wonderful. Watching the opening ceremonies, the epic spanning shots of Beijing and the incredible sports action in the pool and on the track in HD cannot be beat. If we can’t be court-side for beach volley ball or high up in the Bird’s Nest for the parade of nations, NBC’s Beijing HD broadcasts have to be the next best thing.

The Design

I love the look of these games. Every single visual aspect of the 2008 Beijing Games has been masterfully designed to evoke emotion, Chinese tradition and technical perfection. From Herzog & De Meuron’s famous “Bird’s Nest” stadium and PTW Architects’ exciting “Water Cube” swimming center, to the elegant design of the wave pattern employed on banners, posters and even the medals themselves, Beijing looks simply stunning. By contrast, London’s designers come off as hacks.

Compelling Athletic Drama

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are all in play in Beijing. I’ve really enjoyed watching Michael Phelps make Olympic history with his eight gold medals. I’ve also been rooting for the Chinese every chance I get from rowing (they won their first golds!) to women’s beach volley ball, the incredible women’s marathon and beyond. And who could forget Usain Bolt’s incredible and cocky performance in the men’s 100 meter dash? The 2008 Summer Games have been a dream come true for sports fans around the globe, and it isn’t over yet.

The Commercials

Yes, even the ads kick ass. The commercials during the games have put those over-hyped, over-priced train wrecks we see during the Super Bowl to shame. I especially love VISA’s simple, narrated ads with Morgan Freeman and the always inspiring creations of United Airlines. Between the games and the commercials, I can barely break myself away from the TV long enough to grab a snack!