Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Desktops (Apple) Apple

The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams (howtogeek.com) 117

Over the years, Apple may have improved security, filters, and screening process of apps for its Mac's App Store, but even today things the quality of fraudulent apps continue to not only seep through its gatekeepers, but often times outnumber the good apps. How To Geek did some investigation over this and published the findings yesterday in a story titled, "Don't Be Fooled: The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams". It didn't take long for the publication to find scam apps on Apple's marquee app store for Mac computers. A search for "Microsoft Excel", for instance, returns "Office Bundle" made by a third-party. The app offers templates -- and just that -- for $30. Same is the case with any Office suite application. This might not seem as a real problem to many, but as How to Geek points out, there is one more problem: almost all these apps have icons and title names that are similar to those of Microsoft's, and Apple has had no issues with that. From the article: Let's be blunt: these customers were ripped off, and Apple pocketed $10 each (Editor's note: Apple charges 30 percent on all transactions on App Store(. And you'll only see these comments if you scroll past the two five star reviews that mention the word "app" numerous times. All of these fakes use Microsoft brands like Office, Word, and Excel in the product names. The logos aren't one-to-one copies of Microsoft's official logos, but they're almost always the correct color and letter (blue "W" for Word, green "E" for Excel, etcetera).
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Excel's logo is a green X, not E.

    Let's be frank here, if you can't be assed to look at the screenshots and read anything, hell, do more than just look at the icon before pressing "buy", you're being a moron, and you deserve to be scammed. This isn't Apple's responsibility, it's yours, and yours alone to do the absolute minimum amount of "research" (if it can be called that) before spending money. I thought this was called common sense; apparently it's a rare and valuable skill.

    • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @10:35AM (#53377333) Journal

      But you wouldn't expect to go into a physical Apple Store and have to inspect the merchandise to make sure it isn't fake, would you? It's up to the owner of a store to protect its reputation by ensuring the quality of the merchandise sold there. If Apple wants to give an experience equivalent to buying gear out of a cardboard box in an alley, that's up to them, but I'm not sure that's the smart move.

      • A standard Brick and Mortar store isn't quite the same, though.

        Think of the Apple App Store (and Google Play, whatever MSFT still has running, etc) not as typical stores, but as consignment shops, which is essentially what they are. Put with the proper analogy, it makes a lot more sense, no?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Technically yes, but people treat it more like iTunes or a real store, i.e. somewhere curated and safe they can go to buy legit stuff. They may be wrong to do that in some sense, but Apple certainly doesn't slap a "buyer beware" sticker on every app either.

        • Every consignment shop I've sold through or bought from stakes their reputation in their ability to vet the items sold in their shop as either genuine and complete (and, therefore, worth the increased price tag) or fake/replica/incomplete/broken (and, therefore, priced lower or refused for consignment).

          You're right, that's is a proper analogy and it does make a lot more sense. Apple should give a shit, because they're putting their name on it.
      • It absolutely IS the smart move.

        Carefully vetting and curating apps in an app store would cost Apple a lot of money: they'd have to pay people to examine them all, come up with standards and ensure the apps all meet the standards, field complaints from customers and app makers alike, etc. It's much cheaper to just make it a free-for-all.

        The downside is that this approach usually results in a poor reputation, which can in theory cause customers to abandon your app store. But this isn't a problem for Apple.

        • I thought "careful vetting and curating" was the whole reason Apple wanted everyone to use their store, and the reason they charge 30% for what, is effectively, a consignment shop...
          • No, you're confused. The reason they charge 30% is because they're Apple and have a captive market full of rubes with their app store, so the 30% is what app developers pay Apple to have access to these customers. The "careful vetting and curating" is what Apple makes the rubes *think* they're doing, even though they're not. No amount of exposure regarding the actual lack of vetting will make the rubes stop buying from Apple and its app store, or even change their perception of Apple.

            • As both a developer and customer, I can assure you that apps are vetted. Despite this article claiming "scam" it doesn't appear to break any rules. It's just not worth the money. And Apple specifically don't set the prices.

              I buy from the App Store if the App I want is available there because I'm guaranteed a refund if the app does not meet expectations. That is not true if you buy an app directly.

              And because I can be pretty sure the app is not malware. The level of vetting, and the sandbox pretty much ensur

          • Vetting, yes. Curating, no. Well they curate a "featured" section, but needless to say this piece of shit isn't featured.

            It's not malware. It explicitly says in the description that it's not produced by, endorsed by or affiliated with Microsoft. If someone wants to sell an app which consists of little more than a bundle of templates, they can. Nor does Apple set or approve prices.

            However, there is a ratings and reviews section, and in the UK Store, this has 5 one-star ratings with reviews that advise not bu

      • But you wouldn't expect to go into a physical Apple Store and have to inspect the merchandise to make sure it isn't fake, would you?

        Brick-and-mortar stores are not immune to selling fake products. Sometimes the fake products are so good that the manufacturer can tell the difference. Saw a TV report many years ago on high-end purses and watches.

        • That's because those purses and watches are made on the same factory lines in China that the real ones come out of. They just aren't sold with the 8,000x markup.

          • Sometimes. But commonly not. Usually they are inferior look-alikes. Purses are make with fake, or at least inferior leather, and only single stiched, so they fall apart within a few months. Watches come with digital rather than mechanical mechanisms, and cheap eletro-plating that wears off.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You must have forgotten the days of grandma buying the expansion pack to the game you asked for instead of the actual game. Same basic thing is going on here.

        The products aren't fake in any real sense. They're just not stand alone programs. Bundles of textures, fonts, templates, filters, etc. for popular programs are valid products somone might want. The issue is morons who don't know what they're buying fall for deceptive marketing where they say it's juts a third party expansion pack in the description bu

    • This isn't Apple's responsibility, it's yours, and yours alone to do the absolute minimum amount of "research" (if it can be called that) before spending money.

      But Apple and Google both claim to be screening their apps and most consumers expect them too just as most consumers expect amazon to police their third party sellers and weed out fraud. I personally almost never buy an app unless they also have some sort of free trial or demo that I can test first. I think the quality of apps would greatly improve if apple and google automatically gave an instant refund for any app uninstalled in the first 30 days. I find that 90% of the apps I download I almost immedia

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      It's a merged X and L
    • Excel's logo is a green X, not E.

      Let's be frank here, if you can't be assed to look at the screenshots and read anything, hell, do more than just look at the icon before pressing "buy", you're being a moron, and you deserve to be scammed. This isn't Apple's responsibility, it's yours, and yours alone to do the absolute minimum amount of "research" (if it can be called that) before spending money. I thought this was called common sense; apparently it's a rare and valuable skill.

      Keep in mind, Apple became popular because they do the thinking for their users. The mere availability of something that can be confusing on their store really is a big problem for Apple's customers.

    • Excel's logo is a green X, not E.

      Let's be frank here, if you can't be assed to look at the screenshots and read anything, hell, do more than just look at the icon before pressing "buy", you're being a moron, and you deserve to be scammed. This isn't Apple's responsibility, it's yours, and yours alone to do the absolute minimum amount of "research" (if it can be called that) before spending money. I thought this was called common sense; apparently it's a rare and valuable skill.

      Normally I would agree with you wholeheartedly.

      I'll kindly reserve my support for pointing at the stupid and ignorant masses in exchange for proof that Apple's business ethics here isn't equally fucked up.

      Seems sales has eclipsed ethics as more of a rule rather than a much-needed control mechanism. Bottom line is Apple could have scrutinized at least a tad more where blatant shadiness in advertising exists. They don't.

  • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @10:25AM (#53377265)

    30% of 30 dollars is 9 dollars, not 10.

  • by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @10:26AM (#53377279)
    Caveat emptor!
    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Apple's walled garden is meant to be a protection against scams. Strange that they allow this.
    • Yeah, right, I'm pretty sure that's Apple's whole motto.

      Apple: Caveat Emptor
      Apple: Just Because We Stamp Our Logo On Something, Doesn't Make It Worth More

      Right, that's totally Apple's sales strategy.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @10:28AM (#53377285) Journal

    Let's be fair for a moment here...

    1) It's not Apple's job to police Microsoft's trademarks - that's Microsoft's job. Same with any other trademark that the store owner does not own or control.

    2) If the worst you get is an app that has a semi-misleading title that sells you nothing but MS Office templates (for $30? Caveat Emptor, eh?), then it's miles better than the outright malware and data-harvesting apps to be found in other stores. Also, did the author bother to read the description of the item before buying it? Pretty sure that if an app only says "Office Bindle" and has little-to-no description of the product, it's probably going to be a crap purchase.

    This is going to sound a bit trollish, but this is the Internet, FFS... show some brains before you buy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I expect crap and malware from other stores because they explicitly DO NOT POLICE what is in there. Apple does, or claims to.

    • Let's be fair for a moment here...

      Indeed... Let's be fair. When an app has a 1 star review, and 99% of the reviews say the app is a rip-off and that the customer was deceived, Apple should (fill in the blank).

      • ...how many of them took advantage of the refund policy [imore.com]?

      • (fill in the blank) invite the "developers" on a free trip and then dissolve their still-thrashing bodies in vats of acid.

        (fill in the blank) doxx the "developers" and give out their personal account information on file to everyone who got ripped off.

        (fill in the blank) suspend the app, and the developer's dev account, until a satisfactory investigation can be completed.
    • 1) It's not Apple's job to police Microsoft's trademarks - that's Microsoft's job.

      As the curator of their own store, Apple is liable for misuse of Microsoft's trademarks within that store. It would be different if they didn't, supposedly, curate that store, but they do; allowing the misuse of Microsoft's trademark in that manner is, effectively, Apple misusing it themselves. This is especially true as Apple profits directly from it, in the form of 30% of all resulting sales.

      In that sense, and as a shareholder, it is absolutely Apple's job to police Microsoft's trademarks where they may

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        As the curator of their own store, Apple is liable for misuse of Microsoft's trademarks within that store.

        Only if Microsoft complains (via court order) and Apple does nothing. So how many times has Microsoft complained, and how many times has Apple ignored them?

    • One would think Apple would have some type of back-end API allowing copyright holders, trademark holders, etc, to automatically check at least the icons and graphics used in the App Store. No app should stay up very long if it's using infringing icons. I'm waiting for Microsoft to sue Apple and these "app developers" for copyright and trademark infringement...Apple at least pretends this is against policy [apple.com] and supposedly reviews everything before allowing it to go live which would make them culpable in a la
      • The app doesn't appear to be infringing.

        As a developer who produces apps featuring well known brands. We've been challenged before now to prove we're authorised. Which we do.

    • 1) It's not Apple's job to police

      That depends entirely on what kind of store Apple want to run. Are they running a reputable and reliable business offering customers good quality products they can depend on? Or are they the equivalent of "ppssssst. hey. I heard you were looking for Excel, I got some Excel I can send you. Let me know if you're interested I can call for some Excel and have it here in 5 minutes, and it comes at a nice discount too"

  • when does Apple finally take on that piece of junk that is spamming me online every day.
  • Citation needed (Score:2, Informative)

    >> Apple may have improved security, filters, and screening process of apps for its Mac's App Store

    Citation needed
  • Scams (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So, they find a handful of scam apps, and suddenly they make the jump to "The Mac App store is full of scams"?

    I'm not saying this isn't a problem, or that the problem of scam apps doesn't exist, but the article never actually says how many fraudulent apps they found, what is the proportion of fraudulent apps to legitimate apps, or how does this compare to other stores (Google Play, Steam...). The jump from "some apps are a fraud" to "The store is full of Scams" is never explained.

    This is just another "OMG!

    • by Falos ( 2905315 )
      TFA preemptively showers you with superfluous examples and you're still spouting apologist harder than a broken sphincter.

      Wipe up that mess with this old fanboy rag: "The istore is screened, safer, and superior"

      Once it's in the trash you're allowed to wear the "It's unavoidable" shirt.
  • The Mac App Store is a thorn in the side of basically everyone. The promise was that it would be kind of like the iOS app store and you'd have a one-stop shop to find the things that you want. Installation would be easy-peasy, and you'd get Apple's famous quality control as part of the deal, etc., etc.

    The store just makes things worse. The apps are significantly restricted in their ability in the name of safety, so whole categories of applications won't ever be found there (Little Snitch, for instance). The store is as hard to search as the iOS counterpart, so you're just as likely to search on google for an app as the app store. The whole system reeks of neglect. The whole thing feels like a letdown whether you're a developer or a user.

    So are scams a surprise? Not really. The store just feels like work that Apple felt that it HAD to do, rather than something that they were excited to do. As a Mac user and general Apple proponent, I really think the Mac App Store is an embarrassment. Either put some time and money and people into it, or shut it down.

    • I agree. The bad thing is that this level of neglect from Apple does not suggest a long future for any apps you buy through the Mac App Store and, perhaps, the Mac platform itself. Interesting take [macdailynews.com].
    • At least the Windows Store doesn't have this problem.

      It doesn't have the market share to make running a scam worthwhile.

  • I don't know, what would you call a bundle of Microsoft Excel templates so that interested users can possibly find it? Fraud seems to be too sensationalist, the real problem is that actual office is not available and less relevant results thus bubble up to top. An informational message from Apple would easily solve the problem. Of course an actual deal with Microsoft to resell Office would be even better.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      I don't know, what would you call a bundle of Microsoft Excel templates so that interested users can possibly find it?

      Perhaps by including the word "Template" or its plural form in the title or description? The example given forgot to do that.

      • by iamacat ( 583406 )

        Still I would not use the word "fraud" unless there are more active attempts to mislead, like app description implying that this is actual Microsoft software.

        • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

          Features:

          - Create Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
          - Sync documents in OneDrive's Documents folder to local.
          - Keep track all changes of online documents and automatic update on local.
          - Calendar and manage email with Outlook
          - Browse free online templates to create beautiful documents
          - Create and print custom labels and PDFs
          - Work with documents while on the go
          - Easily share your documents with friends and colleagues
          - Enjoy the freedom that comes with online and mobile editing
          - Simply upload your files to

  • If Apple policed the Mac App Store as well as it does the iOS one, everyone would be yelling censorship and crying. At least on the Mac, their app store isn't the only way of getting software. Sounds like the one that should be getting policed more isn't.

    • Why would you make that assumption? People complain about policing on the iOS store, but it's still the most popular smartphone app store out there. The policing is clearly worth it. Why would you assume the policing would not be worth it on the Mac store? It seems to me they need something like that.

      I have zero experience with the Mac store, so I'm basically just talking out my ass here, but it sounds like they chose to go the cheaper and easier route for the Mac store and just set strict requirements to d

  • ... for a product that usually sells for many hundreds of dollars, they deserve what they get.
  • It's full of scams!

  • 60 million people voted for Donald Trump, and you're complaining about a few dumb folks getting scammed by the Mac OS store?

    Dude, the whole freaking country of 320 million people just got scammed by a con man.

    Scams are the new normal. Get used to it.

  • Apple is just trying to keep up with Google-Play-Store

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

Working...