With something like 100,000 apps now available for the iPhone, the AppStore is a solid target for iPhone developers without scruples looking to scam the system. The good news is that Apple isn’t going to stand by and allow these kinds of iPhone devs to sully the AppStore’s good name. One iPhone dev house has just witnessed, first hand, what happens when you try to pull one over on Apple – Molinker and their 1000+ iPhone apps have just been banned and taken down from the AppStore. The developer has been scamming the app review system, boosting reviews for its own apps with 5-star ratings and positive reviews.
It’s great to see Apple responding to iPhone app scams like this. Especially since Molinker’s ban seems to have been kicked off by an email sent to Apple’s VP Phil Schiller. The email detailed the review scam, which gave apps like Molinker’s own “NightCam Pro” 5-star reviews. Of the 44 perfect reviews, 42 appeared to be fake. These fake reviews were written in similar writing styles by iPhone users that have only reviewed apps from Molinker – a likely indicator that the reviews were fluffed up.
Apple responded by pulling all of Molinker’s apps from the AppStore. With no warning, the mostly fake reviews are gone, and the apps are nowhere to be found. Schiller said in an email that ““Yes, this developer’s apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either.” From what we can see, Molinker is no longer in the iPhone app business.
At first glance, it might seem like a good thing that Apple is responding to these kinds of scams by banning the apps. But, we have to wonder if this sets a dangerous precedent for iPhone developers with loyal followers. We’ve seen iPhone apps banned by the hundreds before, but never for allegedly faking app reviews. How will Apple decide in the future if app reviews are legit or faked. Will reviews from users that only review one iPhone developer’s wares be grounds to ban future apps? At what threshold does Apple consider fluffy reviews bad enough to actually ban the app? Going by Apple’s usual M.O., we’ll probably never know the answers to these questions.