There’s not really any shortage of ways to find out what others think about an app before you shell out the cash, but none are really without their faults. Each major smartphone platform’s App Store has a review system built in — but with more and more tales of people trying to game the system coming out each day, it’s tough to trust a faceless stranger. App review social networks like Chorus call upon a network of people you know — but they require you (and your friends, for that matter) to sign up for a whole new network.
After finding a small audience after launching back in March, social app discovery site Mobspot thinks they’ve found the answer: a Facebook application. No new social network to sign up for, no new site to go to, and all the results are from a group you know and (hopefully) trust. So is it faultless?
Not exactly. Before I dive into it, I’ve gotta give Mobspot credit for pulling off a pretty impressive feat. Most non-iTunes App Review sources all have one inherent problem: purchase verification, or the lack thereof. iTunes doesn’t offer up any official way for these sites to verify that any given reviewer has actually purchased the app, so reviews could be a bunch of non-sense from a developer pumping his own app or the competition railing it, no purchase necessary. The Mobspot Facebook app, however, manually scans your iTunes library for apps sitting on your computer — if you don’t have it, you can’t review it.
Now, back to the question of faultlessness: this App isn’t without its own. It’s something that’s only truly useful once it’s massively successful (enough so that you’ll have friends using it right off the bat), which inherently limits it from being massively successful. It’s sort of a niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche. It’s for Facebook users who carry smartphones — admittedly a pretty massive group. Within that group, it’s most useful amongst friends who carry the same smartphone — and within that, it’s for people interested in installing an application for sharing their opinion on apps. Even if you have a few hundred friends, it seems like only a handful would be left after all this criteria is met — at which point, you might as well have just posted something to your wall asking for App advice.
With that said: if a user is willing to be vocal about the application and get their friends into it, the idea is sound. Turning to friends to get opinions is a great means of getting trustworthy reviews, as long as you can get said friends to pipe up.
Check out the Mobspot Facebook app here. It’s currently for iPhone apps only, though they plan to support all the other major platforms (as the primary Mobspot site already does) in the future. And be sure to tell your friends.