There has been some discussion lately around the dynamics that led to the unexpected success of Flappy Bird, a remarkably simple iPhone game app that at one point was reported as pulling in as much as $50K a day in revenue. At least one analysis suggested that in-app review mechanics propelled the game to the top of the charts. In the article, the author makes an interesting observation, that “writing hilariously detailed iTunes reviews of the game became a viral phenomenon.” Since we track over 1M apps in the iTunes App Store and also collect a sample of reviews for these apps, we decided to check if there is a clear relationship between how detailed an app’s reviews are and its rank. We used the number of words in the review as a measure of “detail”, which while not perfect, is a pretty good proxy.
Here’s the graph of the application rank in the Overall genre and the median number of words in a sample of the app’s reviews –
As you can see, there is no clear relationship between the two variables. To reduce the variance in the data, we also bucketed the apps by rank in groups of 20 (ranks 1-20, 21-40 and so one) and plotted it against the mean of the median number of words in the review sample. Here’s what the graph looks like –
There is still no clear relationship, though the reduction in variance for lower (worse) ranked apps is interesting. While our analysis did not reveal a relationship between the length of the reviews and the app’s rank, the velocity of reviews could have still played a part.
We will continue to analyze the data to find interesting trends in the mobile data we track. If you find this interesting, please sign up for our newsletter here.