Gaming the App Store

I just finished up another 360|iDev, which was fantastic as always. One of the topics that came up several times, as it has since the App Store has been a thing, was discoverability on the App Store. Or more specifically the lack thereof. There seemed to also be some disagreement whether Apple could or should address the problem. Many people seemed to be of the opinion that the App Store’s purpose is simply a means to install / update apps which is does pretty well, and the app discovery problem should be solved elsewhere. Not sure I agree entirely, but everyone seems to agree that discoverability is hard and it would be great if someone somewhere made this better.

Well I have an idea. Actually I had this idea some time ago and started to put pieces of it together before realizing that I’m out of my element and set it aside. But hey maybe somewhere has the resources to do something like what I had imagined so I’ll leave it here for your consideration.

What if there were a site that created a sort of stock trading game where the “stock” represented shares in an app? Each app would receive some ticker symbol and the price would be determined by a combination of the same principles of supply and demand that drive the real stock market, plus the app’s actual performance in the app store. I’m thinking the price would actually be heavily weighed towards store performance in hopes that it would make it a little harder to game the system. There are a ton of details to work out, but that’s the basic gist. Personally I think it could be fun, but more importantly make it easier to discover apps based on merit and not necessarily on the size of their marketing budget.

A couple ways you could discover new apps would be:

Biggest gainers

Actually I might be helpful if Apple added this. I’m not talking about the overall top paid/free charts but those that have seen the biggest jumps (or declines) recently. This and the ability to filter by category, time period, etc. Would be handy.

Top traders

Those that are consistently able to spot those diamonds in the rough should also end up with the most valuable portfolios. By following these traders you should be able to more quickly discover those apps that are likely to be worthwhile. The only worry would be a sort of Warren Buffet effect where one trader’s influence effects everyone else’s and their predictions become self-fulfilling prophecies. But assuming that they continue to pick quality apps I can’t really say that’s a horrible thing.

Would this be fun? And could you prevent the gamers from gaming the game? I think it could be just as fun to explore and watch as it would be to play. It’s probably a site that I could waste ridiculous amounts of time on if done well. As for abuse, anyone with enough determination could surely figure out how to do that. To counter that, in addition to weighting the store performance most heavily when calculating the price, there could also be reputation system in place that would allow visitors to filter cheaters out of the Top traders list.

Okay so like I said, there’s a lot of hand waving over the details here, but it’s a starting point. As always, I’d love to get your thoughts on this. Or maybe something like this exists or has been tried and I missed it? Let me know!