Windows Phone Marketplace app ranking system ‘broken'

As any Windows Phone user or developer will know, finding stuff in the Marketplace isn’t always easy. 

The clumsy Marketplace search system, which bundles apps, artists, songs and albums into one long random list for any search term; the skewed presentation of games, which is heavily biased towards Xbox Live titles; the inability to sort search results by price, age or name – these are all flaws that exist today in the Marketplace, and which make it that bit more difficult for users to find apps, and for developers to sell them.

The prominence of an app in the Marketplace is determined by its Marketplace ranking (based upon the app's performance on Marketplace), and if reports from 1800PocketPC.com are correct, it looks like that ranking system is currently broken, and may have been for as long as two weeks now.

Developers have reported problems to 1800PocketPC.com, indicating that their apps have not changed in ranking for days on end, and even high profile Xbox Live titles, such as Hydro Thunder GO, appear to be affected.

What’s worse is that developers who have reached out to Microsoft for assistance or information have so far had no help from the company – emails to Microsoft have allegedly been ignored, while a thread on a Microsoft forum on the issue was deleted without explanation, after other developers confirmed they’d noticed the problem too.

While the ranking system remains out of action, the ranking of each app will continue to remain unchanged.  That’s bad news, especially for developers – those submitting new apps will see their apps struggle to gain visibility, and those developers with increasingly successful apps won’t see their performance improvements reflected in their Marketplace ranking.

Given all the noise that Microsoft makes about the importance of developers to the success of the Windows Phone platform – and let’s not forget: according to Nielsen, Windows Phone 7 has a grand total of 1% of the US smartphone market, so it’s not exactly mission accomplished yet – it’s disappointing to see the company remain tight-lipped for so long on an issue that’s clearly of great importance to its developer base.

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