updated 02:30 pm EST, Mon November 28, 2011
Lack of oversight lets fake Rovio exploit Android
Google's strategy for Android Market may have come to bite it after a scam developer successfully made it to the store. Misleadingly named Rovio [now pulled] instead of the real Rovio Mobile Ltd., the developer published non-functional apps made to look like legitimate games. A large number of these were iPhone games that Rovio didn't make and which other developers so far had no intention of porting to Android, such as Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift and Tiny Wings.
When confronted about the games, including the non-existent Angry Birds 3D, the developer refused to refund the sales. Many of the developer website links are either invalid links to the real Rovio's website or deliberate misspellings.
Google's Rito Meier acknowledged the issue and took action along with staff. Electronista saw the developer's titles being individually removed over the course of Monday afternoon, and as of 2PM Eastern had removed the fake Rovio entirely as a publisher. The company hadn't entirely eliminated problems as a whole, however, as a company known as C Chase Apps has posted a fake Tiny Wings (Android Market) that hasn't been affected.
While lasting for roughly a day, the discovery nonetheless underscores a mounting problem with Google's consciously hands-off approach to monitoring Android Market. The choice has allowed more flexibility in apps than on iOS, but it has also allowed a rise in malware and knowingly deceptive apps. Google's reaction-based enforcement usually leads to at least a small number of victims.
Android owners are asked to look for poorly done descriptions or very negative reviews, although reviews aren't always available until it's too late. Many scam operators deliberately clone as much of the art and text as possible, however, making it difficult to check unless the buyer is truly knowledgeable.
Clone apps or similar-sounding titles have shown on iOS, but these are often either hint guides or otherwise conspicuously different than what the real publisher has. Apple's screening process usually catches fakes before they can get to the customer. [via The Gadgets]