Back at the beginning of the App Store
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Apple has sent a clear message to any developers who try to game its iTunes App Store. Software developer Molinker has been kicked out, along with more than 1,000 of its iPhone applications.
The Chinese developer had, according to some estimates, 1,000-plus applications in the store, most of which were copycat knockoffs of existing applications. When a friend of writers at the iPhoneography photography blog saw these rather poor applications consistently scoring 5-star reviews, they got suspicious.
Some investigation showed that Molinker’s applications were getting many top ratings and almost nothing in the 2-to-4-star range. In fact, the only other ratings were often 1-star, and likely the only truthful feedback on the apps’ pages.
This scam was so effective that the applications regularly rose to the tops of charts. One, called ColorMagic, even made it into the Staff Favorites section of the store…
After a week of typical Apple silence, iPhoneography wrote again, and received a reply direct from Schiller: “Yes, this developer’s apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either.”
The scale of this purging is huge: 1,000 applications represents almost 1 percent of the entire App Store offering. This alone shows that Apple is happy to do whatever it takes to keep its house clean.
It also shows the power that Apple has over those that sell in its exclusive marketplace. Sure, Molinker was caught cheating, and punished, but Apple could pull the same trick on any developer, for any reason [I was waiting for the predictable paranoia to set in].
We don’t think that it would, but iPhone developers are a nervous bunch as it is, rubbing on rabbits’ feet and crossing their fingers as their creations make their way through a fickle and seemingly arbitrary approval process.
Customers who bought mediocre apps for a couple of bucks each can go ahead and try to get their money back from Molinker. Good luck!