I've developed a mobile game and have it listed both at Google Play and the Apple App Store. The install stats from Google Play are very close to my own stats, but the stats iTunes Connect shows are WAY off -- it shows nearly 1,000 "app units" (which I assume means installs) when there's only about 120.

Most of their "installs" come from China.

I'm trying to figure out 1) why iTunes Connect is counting all of these bogus "installs" and 2) what possible benefit someone could have from performing all of these fake installs.

Thanks in advance for your insight.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 1. How exactly are your "own stats" calculated? 2. Did you pay for any shady "app promotion" programs? Many have a couple bots which download an app so to boost the download numbers in the charts, but never actually open it. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Feb 26 '17 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ 1. I add an entry in my database each time I get a new user (new users are identified with a uniq identifier per install). 2. Nope, no app promotion purchases here. \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathan Leger Feb 27 '17 at 12:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe there is a network problem which prevents users from China from contacting your database server? Maybe the great firewall is blocking it for some reason? \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Feb 27 '17 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have also seen completely nonsensical numbers reported on itunes for my apps, and almost always these weird spikes say they originated from China. For instance, one day out of the blue one of my games that never gets downloads reported 600 downloads from China. Another stat on that app said 0 installs. What does that first number even mean then? \$\endgroup\$ – Tartle Wizard Feb 28 '17 at 22:59

I am experiencing the same issue - after updating my iOS apps, there is a period (a few days) when a lot of App Units get reported from China. In fact more App Units then Impressions / Installations / Sessions. And I have Google Analytics (Firebase) installed as well, where I don't see any increased activity.

I've read online that this might be due to click-farms (in China) that have been paid by some other apps for fake installs. And perhaps in order to not seem too suspicious, these click farms also install other random apps (perhaps ones that have been recently updated).

So until Apple figures out how to filter this out, I guess our only option is not to focus on App Units, but on other analytics (e.g. iTunes Connect's Installations, Active Devices, Sessions, or a third-party analytics tool such as Firebase, Mixpanel, Fabric etc.). Or to ignore data from China.

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I have been experiencing something similar for my app too. However after having done some research, I think I understand this situation enough for this to not be a concern to me right now. Again this is purely based on my understanding of the situation.

  1. iTunesConnect App Analytics is "OPT-IN": So the users have to agree to sending data to Apple for these things to show up in the App Analytics in iTunesConnect.
  2. Analytics software: Now China (中国) has this thing they call the 'Great Firewall' and what it does is change the destination of the data being transmitted to servers outside of China. From what I understand Data for Chinese (中国人) users must be stored within China i.e. the server where the data for Chinese users is stored must be physically within China. I believe Google servers are not, hence it's blocked. Google owns Firebase now, ergo that's blocked too.
  3. My case: Now for my app the downloads have increased overall, with over 60% of those coming from China and we are seeing some data (from China, it's not like we get 0 data from China. We see some sessions and why is that the case? Now after some digging around I found out that the way the Great Firewall(Google/Bing it) works is not 100%. The process of changing the destination doesn't always work i.e. it does not always change the destination and therefore some of it goes through and combine that with some tech savvy users using VPN in China. However for my case, it's unlikely that the users of my app are using VPN.

I have written a blogpost explaining all of the above in more detail.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting observation.. but how do you explain less product page views than installs? How can an app be installed without viewing the product page? \$\endgroup\$ – Dinesh Rajan Aug 25 '17 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ mate as I said App Analytics is OPT-IN only. So the data for a person with an iPhone/iPad viewing the product page will only show up in App Analytics on itunesConnect if that user has agreed to send the data to Apple. Therefore it's entirely possible for installs to be more than page views \$\endgroup\$ – cptdanko Aug 26 '17 at 11:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ opt-in should be for sending data from phone to apple servers. For example, if user launched and app, how long it has run Apple don't need permission to capture somebody viewing a page in their server. They are already capturing impressions, app units, but my issue is this is not matching page view \$\endgroup\$ – Dinesh Rajan Aug 26 '17 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok mate your question is not clear? Also have a read of my answer specifically point 3 about the Great Firewall. Try to understand how the Great Firewall of China (GFW - try to Google/Bing it?) works and hopefully that should answer your question. \$\endgroup\$ – cptdanko Aug 27 '17 at 2:11

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