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Apple bans dev, removes 1,011 apps over shilled reviews

updated 07:35 pm EST, Mon December 7, 2009

Fake reviews resulted in inflated ratings

Apple has banned the iPhone developer Molinker and removed the company's entire app library from the App Store, according to MobileCrunch. The action is reportedly a result of fake reviews posted by shills presumably associated with the developer. Molinker had established a total of 1,011 titles on the App Store, all of which have been pulled.

The scam was allegedly noticed by several of users who had posted single-star reviews amongst a plethora of five-star ratings. Another user, known as SCW, contacted the iPhone photography blog iPhoneography with a list of detailed observations.

SCW noticed that 42 of 44 reviews for the Molinker app NightCam Pro appeared to include illegitimate five-star ratings. Each of the shills had only reviewed Molinker apps, adding evidence to the allegations of foul play. Similar discrepancies were observed across the developer's entire range of apps.

"This is absolutely fake, misleading & pushing false info to customers to buy their apps," SCW wrote. "One app 'ColorMagic' is even on apps front page as an App Store 'Staff Favorite' yet the reviews majority are FAKE (203) 5 Star & (91) 1 Star."

iPhoneography and SCW both sent an e-mail to Phil Schiller outlining their observations and concerns. Although the executive did not immediately respond to the inquiry, all of Molinker's apps were quietly removed from the App Store. "Yes, this developer's apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either," Schiller later confirmed.

Although Apple has been criticized for maintaining tight control over the content approved for the App Store, many users and developers have voiced frustration over inflated ratings. It remains unknown if the company plans to pursue similar actions against others, as suspicious review trends have been noticed with separate developers and several PR firms.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. timjones17

    Joined: Dec 1969


    99,000 f*** apps scrutinized

    So that's what, 1,000 banned "apps"? what's left are 99,000 f*** apps, that were so so closely scrutinized. Are we really sure that those 99,000 f*** apps make f*** sounds, maybe 40,000 make burp sounds?

  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969



    tim, you make no sense. Lay off the bottle.

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A bit late but

    nice work from Apple, there Travelto apps were a scam to begin with. There is less information in these apps than an average Wikipedia page on the subject.

    Apple can't ban all these apps in advance but a good review system is crucial.

  1. stainboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    good riddance...

    to a thousand crapplications. while i understand the App Store is extremely competitive, i despise the practice of flooding the store with hundreds and hundreds of junk applications that are identical save for the mediocre content.

  1. jwdsail

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Has to be other "proof", right?

    I'd hope that any "proof" of shill reviews goes deeper than reviewers only reviewing for one company's apps.. I have very few games and have only added reviews for two from Pangea. (both positive) I think I have reviewed 2 other apps, non-gaming, both from a 2nd company.. also positive.

    In my experience people only offer feed back when something is really great, or really bad.. This will almost always lead to strange sample sets that look like some have reviewed two very dif apps.. (one good, one bad)...


  1. macuserssmelllikebum

    Joined: Dec 1969




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