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Apple Bans "Astroturfing" Developer, Cans 1000 Apps

A prolific iPhone app developer, Molinker, has been banned from the App store after a user sent a detailed email to Apple's marketing boss, Phil Schiller, explaining the apparent backhanded strategies used by the Chinese developer to score highly in reviews.

British blogger, Glyn Evans, noticed that the iPhone Apps developed by Molinker, which many considers to be cheap clones of existing popular iPhone apps, were getting consistently high reviews and ratings despite objectively not deserving those cookie points.

Further investigation by the author who writes for blog, iPhoneography, revealed that the reviews were often poorly written and the reviewers only appeared to be commenting on Molinker application and not on others as it would normally be the case.

A message from Apple's VP, Phil Schiller, confirmed a few days later that the developer's applications had been removed from the App store and the incriminated reviews deleted; his crime was to astroturf, in other words, trying to pimp his own products through illegal means.

Apple has had a chequered history when it comes to the App store; not that the application management system is not working as it should; it has already generated millions of dollars for the Cupertino-based company.

However, the sheer amount of apps instore - more than 100,000 - coupled with the number of submissions daily and Apple's propensity to make moves without giving explanations mean that iPhone app developers are likely to be quite nervy.

Our Comments

It is perfectly understandable that Apple deletes Molinker's applications from the App store, however, it seems that it did so without actually contacting Molinker or hearing the latter's side of the story. This is a dangerous process as Apple has been relying on only one source and Molinker could potentially sue Apple for lost revenues.

Related Links

Apple bans iPhone developer and pulls 1000 apps for faking app reviews on AppStore (opens in new tab)

(Intomobile)

Apple blocks 1,000 iPhone apps amid astroturfing claims (opens in new tab)

(Guardian)

Apple Expels 1000 Apps From Store After Developer Scam (opens in new tab)

(Wired)

Ratings Scandal Kills More than 1000 iPhone Apps (opens in new tab)

(PC World)

Apple bans iPhone apps developer over fake reviews (opens in new tab)

(T3)

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.