App Store Paid Apps rate well, free apps don’t

App Store ratingsWhen people visit the App Store to download themselves a nice iPhone App you should assume that quality free apps get high ratings, well…euhm, because they are free. But this isn’t true. Apparently Free apps are less likely to be rated more than 2.5 stars out of 5 than paid apps. A free notepad will get ratings which are approximately 30-50% worse than a paid notepad app with exactly the same features.

If we take a look at the Photography category of the App Store, we come to the following results. The minimum rating for a free App in the Top 100 is 1,5/5, for a paid App this is 2,5/5. When we take a look at the maximum rating we see that for free apps we have a 3,5/5 maximum rating which nearly no free App reaches, most of them are between 1,5/5 and 2,5/5. When we take a look at the top 100 paid photography apps we see that the maximum rating is 4,5/5 which many apps reach.

Do you think this is odd? Well, the explanation is simple. People have a certain limit on their App Store buying behavior. When an App is free they have no limit. They will not read the description and will often just download it when they like the name or icon. When an App is cheap the limit starts to take shape as the user will start to take a look at the screenshots and will start considering the need for the App. With expensive Apps people really consider buying the App for a while and read the review, read the full description, check every screenshot, etc.

When the people in the first category (free App downloaders) discover the App to be useless, because they didn’t read the description, they just delete it and quickly rate it 1/5.
This brings a very poor rating to free Apps. ?People who belong to the other categories (paid App dowloaders) are often more likely to keep the App even if it’s useless and are also more likely to give it a 3-5 stars rating when they delete it. Paid apps will have a higher chance of getting a review as well.

This is also partially the fault of Apple. When do they ask people to rate an App? Right, when the user deletes it. When you delete it in 90% of all cases you don’t like it.

So when you are browsing the App Store, don’t just download apps for the sake of downloading. But take a look at the description. It can save you the pain of deleting it again and it saves developers the pain of seeing 1 out of 5 stars ratings for a perfectly fine App.

Written by

Renzo Verleysen, software developer & Graphics Designer, owner of UIC Phoenxsoftware and occasional writer of opinion pieces and reviews.