Taking a Tougher Stance on Bulk App Publishing

Updated 10/7 with link to App Hub for information on how to seek an exception to the new policy.

Today I’d like to revisit a topic I raised in June with my post, “How Marketplace Manages Bulk App Publishing.

Windows Phone Marketplace is committed to providing customers with a wide range of certified applications, increasing and curating app quality and providing a safe, reliable and convenient shopping experience. Delivering on this commitment requires that we carefully track behavior within our Marketplace and share with you when we adjust our policies to improve the Windows Phone experience. The good news is that the growing popularity and global availability of Windows Phone have already begun attracting more developers. However, we have also seen another spike in what we call bulk app publishing. This is the phenomenon whereby a developer publishes a large number of very similar apps in a single day. As a result the popular “New” Marketplace category fills quickly, pushing the other new apps out and reducing the diversity of the shopping experience.

The first step we took to curb this behavior was to limit the number of apps that one developer can have certified in a single day to 20. We are again observing a small number of developers publishing apps in bulk. Therefore, Effective Friday 9/30 we are limiting the number of apps that can be published in a single day without prior agreement to 10. This means that no more than 10 apps by the same developer will be certified per day (down from 20). In addition we will monitor the number of apps published – not just certified – in a given day and be more proactive in correcting instances where the 10 app limit is exceeded. This may include the unpublishing of apps, and in extreme cases, temporary or permanent suspension of an offending developer’s Marketplace credentials.

This new policy should be appropriate the vast majority of you, but we do appreciate that there may be some instances where there is a legitimate business reason to seek an exception to this policy. For more details about how you can request an exception to the new 10 apps per day limit, please read the following App Hub post.

As is generally the case when addressing policy abuse, we fully recognize that there are really only a few offenders. The vast majority of you understand and respect the value of maintaining a great Marketplace experience, where downloads and reviews dictate just how prominently an app is featured. Still, I’ll take this opportunity to share a few related reminders:

  • Unique apps can only be published in a single category. Any duplicate apps showing up in other categories may be unpublished, per the Windows Phone Marketplace FAQ’s
  • When applying similar templates to multiple types of apps, we recommend differentiating apps through unique iconography, titles and other metadata to help potential customers make informed decisions about downloading apps.
  • As mentioned in application certification requirement 2.10, apps must have distinct, substantial and legitimate content and purpose. Differentiation between your apps can help meet this requirement.
  • There are several ways for your apps to be featured in Marketplace on the phone and now on the Web. Apps are featured by category based primarily on their number of downloads and customer reviews. The same is true for the cumulative top and free sections. The New panorama that makes up the background is algorithmic based on timing.

Marketplace will remain subject to a fair, transparent and responsive certification process. That’s not to say that we’ll always reflect each individual’s assessment of an app’s value. We will, however, continue to base our judgment on our published policies. As you see today, we will regularly assess our own policies and practices to help ensure that our certification and merchandising efforts deliver the best experience in the industry so that your apps can thrive in a safe, reliable and convenient marketplace.

Thanks for your continued support and feedback on how we can make the Marketplace experience better for you and customers.

Todd Brix,
Senior Director, Windows Phone Marketplace