Fighting ‘App Spam’

One of the many issues plaguing the App Store for Apple’s iPhone platform is that of ‘app spam’. Now that Palm is busy dotting the i’s of its own offering, the App Catalog, discussions have erupted about how Palm should combat this problem – if at all.

Money is to be made with the App Store. There are countless stories of iPhone developers making a pretty buck publishing applications in the App Store, which is of course a good thing. However, whenever money’s involved, things always go bad. “App spam” is when a developer releases as many variants of the exact same application as possible, hoping to get noticed.

Obviously, this clogs up the pipes, and as your application store grows, this problem only gets worse. Anyone who has ever spent some time perusing the massive listings of applications in the App Store knows what I’m talking about.

Luckily, there are various ways to combat this problem, and now that Palm is in the final stages of finishing its own App Catalog for the webOS, developers at Palm’s forums are discussing the options Palm has. Palm of course has the option to simply ban this kind of behaviour, but Chuq Von Rospach, Palm’s Developer Community Manager, disagrees with that idea.

“Rhetorical question – who do you want to decide what you can buy? Do you want to make that decision yourself? Or do you want someone else to start making that decision for you?” Von Rospach says, “And if you do start letting someone else make that decision, what’s your recourse when that other entity starts making decisions you don’t like?”

Von Rospach further explains that it is better to let the market decide. “If people don’t buy them, the developer won’t make money. If the developer won’t make money, they’ll stop doing it. Fact is, people are buying them. Enough for it to be profitable for the developer? You’ll have to ask the developer,” he states.

I think this is a very practical and good way to approach this problem – and the App Catalog in general. Palm has a set of clear rules for the App Catalog, and there’s really no benefit to arbitrary rejections – as evidenced by Apple’s App Store and the negative PR arbitrary rejections have caused there. In the meantime, Palm is also implementing something that might combat this problem anyway: a 50 USD fee per application might discourage developers from employing the app spam strategy.

How do you all feel about this?


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