Apple boots developer and their over 1,000 apps from App Store over review scam

Apple Sale“Apple has taken action against app developer Molinker over alleged review fraud, resulting in the removal of all 1,000 of the company’s apps,” Brian Garner reports for AppleInsider.

“Thanks to the detective work of one intrepid app store enthusiast, Molinker – developer of close to one percent of all the apps available on the App Store – has been banned from the App Store and all of its apps have been removed,” Garner reports.

“The issue was first brought to light by photo blog iPhoneography in a post highlighting the concerns of one of its regular readers,” Garner reports. “Reader SCW had concluded that app developer Molinker had been using its promo codes to write fake 5-star reviews of many of its apps. Each review shared the same short, disjointed style and the reviewers had only written reviews for other Molinker apps.”

SCW laid out the case in a letter to Apple executive Phil Schiller. Garner reports, “Phil Schiller responded that Apple would look into the issue. On Sunday, both SCW and iPhoneography received word from Schiller confirming ‘Yes, this developer’s apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no long appear either.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Gee, Phil, you mean if an app doesn’t exist in the App Store, its ratings won’t either? Thank you, Mr. Obvious! But, seriously, good for Apple. Now if they can just get a handle on the rest of what’s broken with user reviews including the timely removal of user reviews that are obviously in error or outright libelous, they’d really be cooking with gas.

23 Comments

  1. I think Mr Schiller was implying that the fake reviews entered by the company would no longer show up, not that all reviews related to their apps would be. Of course, the latter is also true by nature of the apps not being on the store any more, and since they only seemed to review their own apps it essentially boils down to the same thing, but I suppose if they had negatively reviewed other apps those reviews would be gone as well.

  2. @MDN

    Are the apps and their associated ratings, reviews and comments, financial transactions, and the list of all paid customers, maintained in the same db, folder, or server?

    If so, then it must have been a cakewalk to purge a thousand apps.

  3. I’ve been suspecting for some time now that this sort of thing has been going on, and likely is far more widespread than Apple may think. You see this sort of thing happening all the time anywhere there is a product review system.

    Now think about the number of apps here. Over a thousand. This developer (or his team, if there is one), has been cranking out about 5 apps per day for the past year and half or so since the App Store opened. There is simply NO WAY that these could possibly have been decent apps having any value. This isn’t the first time a “prolific” developer has been booted out. Perfect Acumen, with 900+ apps, had their developer’s license yanked due to copyright violations. Apple may be able to brag about having 100,000+ apps in their store, but these two shady developers ALONE account for 2% of all those apps.

    When Microsloth announced their app store, one of the revealed limitations of their developer’s license was a fixed number of apps they could release per license (5, was it?). At the time, it was largely derided as being yet another way of MS squeezing their developers for more license fees the more productive they are. In retrospect, given how some Apple App Store developers are obviously abusing their licenses (and manipulating the system) and putting out as much crapware as they can for maximum return on their investment, I’m beginning to see some wisdom in MS’ approach. Well okay, maybe not wisdom, they just blundered into what may turn out to be a good idea while trying to screw everyone. But yeah, I’d rather see an app store with 10,000 high quality apps than one with 100,000 apps that are largely crap.

  4. Perhaps I’m fatally naive, but I’m not understanding HMCIV’s sarcastic remark, above. The App store has been oft criticized for it’s overly tight control of the submission process. But it’s a trade off. We harp on the disadvantages every day. But the advantages are higher quality apps and – as in this case – oversight of fraud and manipulation of the the App store.

    I too wish Apple would clean up their App submission process. But I’m much more patient than most and I see that advantages as well as the disadvantages in the process they use.

  5. @falkirk

    The way I read his post was, he was implying that if an outfit like Apple, who is making an effort to manage a process, Google and their no-holds approach is a disaster in waitng.

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