How bad does Yahoo want you to like their new mobile web browser, Axis? Apparently they want it bad enough to write their own reviews on the iTunes App Store. In case you don’t already have this figured out: According to the rules Apple has established on the App Store, that’s a no-no.
It appears that three App Store user accounts are shills for Yahoo and are written by Yahoo employees. TheNextWeb took a casual glance at these accounts and saw some suspicious behavior, including a paucity of reviews aside from Axis and nothing but glowing words for the new browser. Other positive reviews have been posted by those who appear to be actual, unaffiliated users… but who knows what time will uncover.[quote]Yahoo staff rating the app include Yahoo’s Patent Counsel David Ishimaru, Network Operations Center Engineer Brian Coch, and Product Management Director Ethan Batraski, none of whom acknowledged their roles or employment at Yahoo. It is possible that the review-stuffing was serendipitous, and done without the company’s knowledge.[/quote]
Three reviews (out of more than a thousand) are not going to make a significant impact on overall sales or PR, and it’s important to remember that Yahoo may not be organizing a campaign of positive reviews from company sources, but it comes off looking pretty bad, even if the intent is somewhat naively well-meaning. It’s worth mentioning, however, that employees like Ishimaru, Coch and Batraski are placed high enough in the company that it’s not overly convincing to hear them plead ignorance as to the implications and appearance of rating your own app with five stars. It not only comes off as sneaky and manipulative, but it creates the appearance that Yahoo is worried about Axis getting good reviews on its own merits. These guys should know better.