iTunes app ratings may vary from country to country

- March 15th, 2011

loseit

If you’re like most people, before you download or buy an app from the iTunes or Mac App Store, chances are you’ve likely checked out the ratings of the current version, previous versions, if applicable and read a number of the user reviews. But what you might not know is that if you looked at the same App from the store in a different country, you may get a whole different story which may or may not affect your decision to hit the buy button.

Not all Stars the Same

Take for example the latest app, released March 2 from the National Geographic Society- 50 Greatest Photographs . Visiting the Canadian iTunes Store, you’ll find one customer review that gives it 5 stars and calls it “Nice”. Under customer ratings, you get the message “We have not received enough ratings to display an average for this current version of this application.”

Heading over to the US site, that same app shows 42 customer ratings with an average of 4 stars, yet the most recent customer review ranks it as 1-star, commenting that the $4.99 app contains undisclosed commercials.

Interestingly enough, flipping over to the UK site, it appears that the comments and ratings mirror that of the US, as they seem to be identical. Maybe they are using the same feed? Looking at the German and French sites there are no ratings and no reviews.

Another app called Lose-it by Fresh Apps shows how significantly different numbers can vary from country to country.  In the US, their current version has 4-star ranking with 1381 ratings and 3 ½-stars over all versions with 300K+ ratings. In Canada, the star ratings are the same but with only 125 and 20k+ ratings respectively. It’s not surprising given the relative sizes of the two countries.

xcode1

Sometimes star-ratings varied wildly.  Taking a selection of 6 countries, ratings for the Xcode app from the Mac App Store are: 2 stars in Germany, 2 ½ in Italy and France, 3 ½ in Australia, 4 in Canada and 4 1/2 stars in the US, respectively. You may have to read a number of reviews to find out why.

So if reviews are important to you, I highly recommend checking more than one source as this may in fact affect your decision. You can check out your usual sites, but if you want to use the various stores as your guide, there are a couple of ways to do it.

One way is to scroll down to the bottom of the iTunes store, select “Change Country” and click on the flag of the country of your choice. You should of course be signed out of your own account. But there’s an easier and quicker way that I like to use.

Anatomy of a URL

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/xcode/id422352214?mt=12

http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/xcode/id422352214?mt=12

If you are on the iTunes Preview site, have a quick look at the URL  in your web browser. After “apple.com/”, you’ll see a two-letter country code.  If you see “us”, obviously you’re in the United States; and a “ca”, means Canada etc.  What I like to do is quickly jump up to the URL bar changed two-letter code and hit enter. In some cases you may find that the app isn’t even available in your country choice.

CountryCodes

Country Codes

Now I typically look at the same four or five countries but if you’re multilingual or curious to see what’s been written up in other countries and other languages, not surprising, there’s and app for that. It’s appropriately called Country Codes and it’s free.

So if you like to read your reviews from more than one source and iTunes is one of them, consider checking out more than one country. You might be surprised.

Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg


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