For a long time, I didn't want to admit it... my apps get a lot of bad reviews. Sometimes I feel like the reviews almost fall into bullying territory! I'm helpless to respond, and it's not like the user will retract their statement when I release an update that addresses their grievance (no matter how minor). Yes, the app store is the best and worst of places.
Let's take one of my own apps for example, which allows students to download past papers for their high school examinations in Ireland. I assure you it does work most of the time. I wish I knew what went wrong for this user, but .....
I'll admit I have had releases where unexpected things happened. In one case, a subset of papers couldn't be downloaded. I paid for that one!
This year at Úll, an Apple focused conference hosted in Ireland, the organizers put together a great video of developers reading 1-star reviews given to their apps, along the same lines as Jimmy Kemmel's Celebrity Read Mean Tweets series.
The effect of bad reviews can not be understated. It will hit your ranking in the charts, no matter how niche your category. Seeing a bad review when you look at an app's detail will certainly make you think twice about downloading. And bad reviews are prolific for a simple reason, as stated by Alex Austin in this article:
without substantial investment and cultivation, the only people who will have the energy to review and rate most apps are the people that had a poor experience. This means that unless you actively manage your reviews, expect to have a 2–3 star average.
It's an uphill struggle for us all to succeed in the app store, with hundreds of new apps being released every day. The ways to combat this? Frequent releases can hide your one-star reviews, as the reviews for the current version are displayed by default. But that's not going to get you very far. There are services out there where you can buy app reviews, but who really wants to go down that road? In a way, we're just powerless. Unless you have flawless execution, and a great deal of luck, you're just going to have to accept that bad reviews happen to us all.
A grim outlook! So, I ask all app developers out there to share their funniest or worst 1-star reviews. Think of it as group therapy for us all.
And how about this — make an app developer's day by leaving a random good review for an app that you love.