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Dev Booted From App Store For Inflated Reviews 178

Posted by timothy
from the built-in-garbage-collection dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Molinker, a Chinese developer of iPhone apps, has been booted from the App Store after being caught trying to game the App Store review system. It seems reviewers were being paid off with free apps in return for 5-star reviews." This means the removal of over 1000 apps, described in this article as "knock-offs of existing applications."
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Dev Booted From App Store For Inflated Reviews

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  • Thank goodness! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:49PM (#30366842)

    Now a user only needs to sort through 99,000 cheap knockoffs.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:52PM (#30366874) Homepage Journal
    Real developers have trouble getting even small numbers of apps approved, and yet somehow these guys have literally a thousand crappy knockoff apps?
  • The Plot Thickens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:59PM (#30366956)

    Yes, that's right, that's the real interesting question. I suspect that somewhere in the Apple App Store Approval Work Flow Chain is a highly-greased QA monkey. I'll bet more money was spent on the outside reviewers and inside "expediters" than was spent on game design and development.

    In America, that's called a "robust marketing budget."

  • by maczealot (864883) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:59PM (#30366960)
    Ok, so they were INCREDIBLY stupid in how they went about their astro-turfing. They literally had tons and tons of people review ONLY their apps and always give them 5 stars, it was only a matter of time till it was detected. So, if you are wondering how to do this better, just RTFA. The BIG kicker = Apple isn't going to refund any money, and the app dev isn't either.
  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:04PM (#30367018) Journal

    Real developers have trouble getting even small numbers of apps approved, and yet somehow these guys have literally a thousand crappy knockoff apps?

    They just submit them all and wait for approval?

    In fact, it may be precisely why real developers have to wait for that long to get their apps approved... because there's 1000 "knock-offs" in the queue before them!

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:06PM (#30367054)

    Real developers have trouble getting even small numbers of apps approved...

    The quantity of apps on the app store suggest that you're mistaken. A few developers have had some high profile troubles (made high profile because they complain loudly...) but how many thousands of apps have been approved? I think that number would suggest that it's not as hard as people believe to get an app approved. If you're doing bleeding edge work that pushes the boundaries of what Apple considers acceptable, then you might have troubles. But, if you're doing that sort of app design work then you should expect some troubles and understand you might need to tweak and adjust to accomplish your goal (unless, of course, your goal is to get your app rejected and raise a high profile stink about it...).

    Regardless, thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of developers prove you wrong - it's not that difficult to get an app approved.

  • Re:At The Risk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:14PM (#30367148)

    In order to find the answer to your question, let's take a look at the Middle East and consider that this wasteland of genocidal religious fanatics was once home to the most advanced mathematics in the world only 500 years ago. Mashallah.

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:18PM (#30367206)

    Why would the developer refund money if the apps do what they were supposed to?

    If the apps did what they were supposed to, why fake reviews?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:35PM (#30367404) Journal
    It isn't so much that Apple's process makes getting apps approved, it is that it makes developing certain classes of apps difficult.

    If your strategy is to shovel out hundreds of more or less cookie-cutter titles, the approval mechanism will just slow you down slightly. You'll presumably figure out the rough edges(dodgy API use, trademark stuff that pisses Apple off, etc.) out in the first few rounds, and the rest will just sail through. Plus, since you are basically just pumping and running, you don't really care about "I patched the issue two weeks ago; but Apple is just sitting on it" style problems because you don't bother patching.

    The sort of applications that it hurts(which, not coincidentally, are the ones likely to be written by die-hard mac-heads with blogs whereon they can blog about their woes) are the complex and laborious applications(not worth the risk; because a very expensive bunch of labor could just go down the tubes if Apple says "no", and the little indie guys aren't big enough, like EA, to actually be treated as "partners"), or the applications that depend on careful iterative refinement(if delivering each bugfix takes 3 weeks because of Apple, you are doing indie dev work on a sclerotic corporate timescale), or applications that push technical boundaries(because apple is touchy about API use). Plus, unlike the chinese clone shop that just wants to keep its head down and get paid, the App Store rejection stories are, in many cases, also about people who have loved Apple since way back getting a good solid taste of Apple being callous, indifferent, unreasonable, and unapproachable. This makes them sad pandas. Sad Pandas always go to their blogs.
  • by Yold (473518) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:37PM (#30367430)

    You are right, it would be trivial to do association analysis on this problem. The obvious answer is the quality of apps isn't important to Apple, as long as their Appstore is speckled with a handful of popular, high-quality apps that they can advertise ("there's an app for that..."). The more apps they sell, the more money goes into their own pockets. It took a blatant violation, which might hurt future sales due to fears of astro-turfing, for them to respond to this problem.

  • by harl (84412) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:42PM (#30367500)

    If they're copying existing apps then they're copying something that was already approved. I imagine that the original developer would have already dealt with any hurdles.

  • Re:At The Risk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BearRanger (945122) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:45PM (#30367540)

    *snip*

    It seems to me that they are quite capable of making new products and contributing new ideas, so why do they not do so? Why are there repeated examples of this sort of blatant copying? Can anyone clue me in here?

    Because invention and innovation take time and actually cost money. Cheaply copying something is, well, cheap and makes money very quickly.

  • Re:Thank goodness! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:47PM (#30367562)

    Now a user only needs to sort through 99,000 cheap knockoffs.

    In sharp contrast to every other OS with apps made for it out there.

  • Re:At The Risk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimbobborg (128330) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:48PM (#30367568)

    It seems to me that they are quite capable of making new products and contributing new ideas, so why do they not do so? Why are there repeated examples of this sort of blatant copying? Can anyone clue me in here?

    Mao happened between then and now. When you have a monolithic culture where standing out gets you beat down, and it's easier to just copy something than come up with something new, you get crap like this.

  • Re:Thank goodness! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:54PM (#30367684)
    Who all have only one single legitimate place to get them from... oh wait
  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:57PM (#30367740)

    The beautiful irony is that Apple will reject an app that duplicates the functionality of the device, but they're happy to let in several hundred apps that do the same stuff.

  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:00PM (#30367784)

    Real developers have trouble getting even small numbers of apps approved, and yet somehow these guys have literally a thousand crappy knockoff apps?

    To be fair, when a developer gets their app accepted they don't normally write a blog and then submit it to Slashdot. Our view of the "problems" with the App Store is just distorted because we only see the (very) small number of people who have a problem.

    Real developers have no problems getting their application tested and into the store just fine. If the "problems" we see were widespread, there would be nothing in the App Store to download.

  • Re:At The Risk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:19PM (#30368032)
    There are over 1.3 Billion Chinese. Even if a very small percentage of them are creative, they should still be out-inventing every other country in the world. Obviously, the majority of them are better at copying. This might be due to an educational system that stresses rote memorization and discourages independent thought. My experience with Taiwanese CS grads was that they were very good at doing exactly what you told them to do, but if an unexpected situation came up, they were reluctant to handle it on their own. Of course, that is a generalization based on a very small sample set, so it doesn't apply to all Chinese.
  • Re:At The Risk (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fudoniten (918077) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:57PM (#30368686)

    Well, there's the whole starving-to-death thing. When you're struggling to survive, it's a little harder to be creative and inventive. The speed of progress and innovation in the US and Europe was closely correlated with the amount of surplus food they had (and have) lying around.

    China has only recently (almost) got rid of that problem. Now they're playing catchup. They're making a ton of money creating 'knock-offs', and building their infrastructure in the process.

    Expect China (and India) to be the most innovative countries on earth in, oh, I dunno, twenty to thirty years.

  • by Capsaicin (412918) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @04:11AM (#30375034)

    I'm certain porting between Obj C and C++ is faster then porting between Obj C and Java.

    I really doubt that porting from C++ would give you much more joy than porting from Java. It's not the syntax of the language that is the problem, it's NextStep (or Cocoa, Cocoa Touch). True Cocoa Apps are supposed to obey the MVC model, but even in the controller most of the stuff you are working with is from NS frameworks. Frameworks which ObjC (but not Java or C++) specifically address.

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