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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Knockoff apps have long been a problem in the App Store, with scam apps sneaking past reviewers to compete with genuine apps and steal sales, and back in 2012, Apple's Phil Schiller was absolutely furious when a fake app made it to the top of the App Store rankings, according to documents shared in the Epic v. Apple trial.

appstore.jpg

At the time, Temple Run was a super popular iOS exclusive title, and in February 2012, a fake version of Temple Run hit the App Store charts. Schiller sent out an email to Eddy Cue, Greg Joswiak, Ron Okamoto, Phillip Shoemaker, Matt Fischer, Kevin Saul, and others on the App Store team. "What the hell is this????" he asked. "How does an obvious rip off of the super popular Temple Run, with no screenshots, garbage marketing text, and almost all 1-star ratings become the #1 free app on the store?"

"Is no one reviewing these apps? Is no one minding the store?" he ranted on, before asking whether people remembered a talk about becoming the "Nordstrom" of App Stores in quality of service.


Since that 2012 rant, App Store reviewers have continued to struggle with knockoff apps that mimic real apps. A second document highlighted Minecraft knockoffs that had made it into the App Store not once, but twice, and was eating up Minecraft sales, and in a third 2015 document, Schiller comments that he "can't believe" that Apple doesn't have automatic tools to find and kick out scam apps.


Scam iOS apps that defraud users and mimic real apps continue to be a problem to this day. In recent months, developer Kosta Eleftheriou has taken to speaking out against scam apps and highlighting notable scams in the App Store, bringing additional attention to the issue.

Article Link: Phil Schiller on App Store Knockoffs in 2012: 'Is No One Reviewing These Apps?'
 

rjp1

macrumors 6502a
Mar 27, 2015
503
1,621
Phil asking the tough (and obvious) questions to his team. I've always wondered how these apps last so long in the app store. Seems the exec team wonders too :D
They are at odds with providing secure, legit apps and taking 30% from these bad apps.

What do they do when they remove these apps? Do the devs get to keep money? Does Apple get to keep money? Does it go back to the customer?

I miss the original app stores. They were about getting apps onto phones when Steve said you could build rich websites.
 

MedRed

macrumors 6502
Jun 9, 2007
308
1,067
And without Apple caring about it, imagine what the App Store would look like if anyone c
They are at odds with providing secure, legit apps and taking 30% from these bad apps.

What do they do when they remove these apps? Do the devs get to keep money? Does Apple get to keep money? Does it go back to the customer?

I miss the original app stores. They were about getting apps onto phones when Steve said you could build rich websites.
No they aren't. The team's objective is to meet Phil's objective. No lower level person is trying to defy an Apple Fellow at Apple.
 

Altivec88

macrumors regular
Jun 16, 2016
213
811
Thanks for proving that management cares and are striving to be the best they can be. I'm sure the volume of dally app updates is quite the challenge. If you think its bad now, can you imagine what it would be like if Apple wasn't policing this. They should be hiring even more people to further refine and improve the process but oh yah that takes money. Developers don't really care about this but us consumers do. I am taking notes and boycotting any developer that tries to take away the walls to my garden.
 

The Cappy

macrumors 6502a
Nov 9, 2015
553
986
Dunwich Fish Market
Whatever. I'm a doctor. In the past I remember getting really angry because someone had problems that weren't caught by the nurses, and I asked something similar. "Is no one watching these patients?" But just because I said that, nobody could legitimately argue, "Well that means people don't need the ICU." Similarly, Schiller was just angry. His email doesn't invalidate what Apple is doing now, or what it was doing then.
 

xDENTALPLANx

macrumors member
May 22, 2018
80
191
New Zealand
Really interesting to see that last comment where he’s demanding they create a system to automatically find low rated apps and purge them.

Although I do wonder what would happen every time Instagram or Facebook has a UI update and everyone says they hate how it looks for a month
 

CWallace

macrumors G4
Aug 17, 2007
10,501
8,049
Seattle, WA
I don't think it is so much the App Store Review Team are terrible at their job, but I expect the sheer number of apps on the store are an issue. And the "bad actors" are likely making a fair bit of money in a short period of time - I would not be surprised if some of the more egregious and flagrant apps that are being identified by third-party "watchdogs" are makings tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for the few weeks they are active before Apple (or a third-party watchdog) identifies them and they are then terminated.

That is a huge incentive to try and get into the App Store with a "scam app" and make some (serious) quick money so likely thousands of "developers" do this and likely do it with tens or even hundreds of apps each. The "hit rate" can be low if the returns are so high and when you flood the review system, bad apps are going to get through.

And depending on the amount, even automation and massive staffing is not necessarily going to save you - especially if those staffers have only a certain amount of time to review an app both due to the load and the demands of legitimate developers not wanting long delays for their updates (or new apps) to be approved because the reviewers are doing deep-dives into them.
 

HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
6,086
2,110
Western US
I guess Schiller doesn't have the pull I thought he did inside Apple, as very little seems to have been done about it. I don't expect them to catch every single bad app, but when there are really obvious ones (including, as noted, ones that make it onto top charts) that hang around for months or years without removal, it's a huge problem.
 
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