The app store ratings system

by Foolproof

As a frequent user of the app store, Pete’s blog ‘I didn’t ask for a 1 star app’ made me think about the usefulness of the ratings system.

Whilst it should be very useful for informing users during their purchase process, it made me wonder how credible and trustworthy these ratings actually are; from my experience I’m a bit dubious.

Many a time I have been casually browsing the app store in hope of finding an app which will change my life forever. During these moments I have come across many apps with very high overall ratings, e.g. 4-5 but on closer inspection the individual reviews rate it as only 1 star.

This begs the question, how is the average rating of this app so high when the vast number of ratings are so low? In fact, many of the reviewers are also commenting on the abnormally high average rating. So either the individual reviews are credible and somehow the developer has managed to forge a high average rating, or the reviews left by the individuals are skewed in some way, or worse, planted by the developers of a competitor app.

My curiosity has gotten the better of me in such circumstances, leading me to download the app to see whether there is truth in the individual reviews, or whether a competitor is simply trying to make them look bad. To my surprise I have tended to agree with the individual reviews and questioned how the overall average rating was so high. This leads to only one conclusion; that the overall rating is being doctored in some way.

As the ratings system is a key part of the app store, customers need to be able to trust that these ratings are a true reflection of the experience of the customers, and not in some way skewed by the developers to make their app look better.

Has anyone else had experience of this or knows how the system works?

What do you think?