FuelMyApp lets iPhone app developers reward reviewers. Will it work?

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FuelMyApp is a new site launching now which is a platform for iPhone app developers to reward users for reviews. Here’s their pitch: Developers get reviews about their apps, while users get free apps in return for reviewing them. Now, before you cry Pay-Per-Post read on and let’s figure this thing out.

Founders Ben Way and Kevin Dixie came up with the idea while complaining to each other that they’d been wasting money on paid-for app’s for their iPhones which, prior to purchase, had no reviews about them in the app store. This was especially if the apps were very new and had no user reviews yet, a common occurrence when you hear about an app that’s potentially awesome it hasn’t hit the mainstream yet.

So how does it work? Developers submit their app’s iTunes reference to the site and select how many reviews they want. They then decide to go global or country specific for those reviews. They then track the progress of the reviews.

Meanwhile, iPhone users sign up with their Paypal email address and iTunes nickname. Then they select an application from fuelmyapp and pay for it as per normal. Once they have tried and tested the app, they review it on itunes. As soon as the review is published in iTunes, fuelmyapp automatically credits back the app fee to the user via Paypal. The costs of the service to the developer are $2.99 per review plus the cost of the application.

Now, let’s look at those potential problems.

If Apple makes big changes to discovery, what then?

And although the iPhone user is not told to review positively and fuelmyapp says it will not view a negative reviewer any differently to a positive one, you have to wonder if that will work.

I spoke to an iphone developer who took a look at the site. He said that it solves “a real need: and that it could make a modest amount of money in the short term. He also said it could work very well for games – which are understood instantly by users and serve a wide market.

However, there are there issues. FuelMyApp needs lots of users to work (I doubt a Techcrunch post is enough).

Also if ngmoco or one of the other big publishers enables this “feature” of paying reviewers, the model may not be defensible.

Furthermore an incentive scheme may well attract the wrong sort of user. As my iPhone developer points out: “We don’t want bad reviews just because someone has tried our app for one minute in order to get a free app.”

Lastly, a developer could simply choose to pay out to all the positive reviewers and ignore the negative ones. This could be very serious if the media got hold of that story.

For their part FuelMyApps says that if they hear of a serial reviewer simply grabbing app after app and trashing them, they’d ban their account. This is of course assuming they have the systems to track this abuse. They also say app publishers won’t be able to control the reviews and abusive reviewers would get reported to iTunes.

Personally I can see arguments for both sides – and FuelMyApps does seem to provide at least another way for the long tail of developers to actually get some feedback when iTunes won’t promote their app in “featured” etc. It may well also beat paying a PR person thousands to solicit reviews.

Then again, it could just end up being a cluster of crap. This one we’ll have to suck and see.

  • http://www.twittlink.com/aj_headline_fuelmyapp_lets_iphone_app_developers_reward_reviewers_will_it_work/aHR0cDovL3VrLnRlY2hjcnVuY2guY29tLzIwMDkvMDkvMjMvZnVlbG15YXBwLWxldHMtYXBwLWRldmVsb3BlcnMtcmV3YXJk TwittLink - Your headlines on Twitter

    […] FuelMyApp lets iPhone app developers reward reviewers. Will it work? […]

  • http://www.iwikiphone.com alex grant

    This is a good idea. Its so difficult to get noticed in the app store before the likes of AppVee or other sites decide to review you. Iwikiphone.com is another site that allows developers to get review back from users. It is a social network for apps lovers and often developers go there to get some feedback from actual users rather than professional reviewers. On the site people can build an app list, suggest apps,comment on apps, read reviews & make reviews. They are completely independent so good for developers and for users to find out about certain apps that may not necessarily be a hit in the app store yet.

    I hope FuelmyApp does well as there is space for companies like this out there.

  • http://www.dotcominfoway.com Lewis Lee

    Wise move. FuelMyApps can make money using iPhone mania. Reviews have to be unbiased.

  • Tereno

    An interesting idea but as the iPhone developer said – when you have incentives for providing reviews, I don’t think you’ll be generating useful reviews. There’s always that chance where negative reviews won’t receive a payout. It’s another form of marketing and it may not truly reflect how good the app actually is.

    I’m more in preference of having both a free/demo app and a paid one with more features. I believe that model allows users to actually try the app out – of course, then the purpose is to get your app noticed amidst the clutter.

    • Tereno

      And yeah – getting noticed is definitely a tricky situation – haven’t began to think about it yet.

      But it is a good start and attempt!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Victoria_Slinyavchook/524273348 Victoria Slinyavchook

      “I’m more in preference of having both a free/demo app and a paid one with more features. I believe that model allows users to actually try the app out – of course, then the purpose is to get your app noticed amidst the clutter.”

      Yes! And it really works.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Victoria_Slinyavchook/524273348 Victoria Slinyavchook

    The idea sounds interesting, but there are too many pitfalls.

    • http://www.dotcominfoway.com/blog/ C R Venkatesh

      I agree with Victoria. There are many pitfalls and it may lead to unrealistic reviews. Thumbs down!

  • mary luong

    So why wouldn’t I just pay Mechanical Turkers $1.98 to review my app? They would get $0.99 as reimbursement for buying my app and $0.99 for the review?

  • http://www.skytroller.com Doug Pelton

    We’ve had bad reviews that seem to be competitor generated. With no easy way to rebut those reviews this may be a mechanism to add some balance to the reviews.

  • http://www.blog-gedanken.de/internet/kostenlose-iphone-apps-durch-reviews/ Kostenlose iPhone Apps durch Reviews | Meine Blog Gedanken

    […] Reviews Kategorien:Internet Tags:App, App Store, FuelMyApp, iPhone, kostenlos, Review Auf TechCrunch.com bin ich auf einen interessanten Service für iPhone Entwickler und iPhone User aufmerksam geworden. […]

  • http://www.killerstartups.com/Mobile/fuelmyapp-com-test-iphone-apps-and-get-them-for-free KillerStartups.com - FuelMyApp.com - Test iPhone Apps And Get Them For Free

    FuelMyApp.com – Test iPhone Apps And Get Them For Free…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  • http://blog.andrewmin.com/2009/09/26/fuelmyapp-money-for-iphone-app-reviews/ FuelMyApp: Money for iPhone app reviews - The Warden

    […] FuelMyApp lets iPhone app developers reward reviewers. Will it work? . […]

  • http://www.iphonebootcampnyc.com Jonthan Sarno

    It could work. It’s chancy. Almost all the developers I’ve spoken to about it haven’t heard about it yet, but then they haven’t really started marketing to the developers and are concentrating on the users. I think more emphasis should be in reaching the developer community but I’m bias, since I have a large network of developers. It seems if they can get some killer apps into the program that haven’t yet been recognized it should have a good launch.

    Most developers I’ve spoken to about fuelmyapp doubt that they would buy more than 10 reviews, as after that most potential users don’t read any more and have made their decision, one way or another.

    I’m not sure if they are right. Lots of marketeers give away free products to fuel the market at launch and I think it may be worth getting a few hundreds apps immediately into the market to get the ball rolling, that is if you really have a great app that people will blog and talk about.

  • http://www.theappencypress.com/ratemyapp Aaron Watkins

    You can also check out http://www.theappencypress.com/ratemyapp – another unbiased review service. They actually get all the reviews in a specific time frame, and will send you a demographic report of the reviewers at the same time.

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