Ratings Scam Triggers Apple To Scrub ~1% of App Store

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Following a brief investigation triggered by the iPhone photography blog iPhoneography, Apple has banished Chinese developer Molinker and its estimated 1000 iPhone apps. The majority of Molinker’s applications were pitiful copycats of existing popular apps, but that’s not what triggered the amateur sleuthing from an Internet friend of iPhoneography.

It turns out that the cloned apps were routinely receiving 5-star ratings from the same group of customers with a few making the Staff Favorites section of the App Store. (Wired brings to light that those staff picks might not even be monitored or picked by real staff.) Both iPhoneography and its Internet friend SCW wrote lengthy letters to Phil Schiller in the hopes that Molinker would be fined and banned for such blatant atrocities. A week later both parties received the following message from Schiller: “Yes, this developer’s apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either.”

(More on Techland: Best of the Decade: Gadgets)

But I have to wonder why Apple doesn’t have a system in place to catch this sort of thing from happening. Isn’t it a little suspicious that an app could garner only 5-star or 1-star ratings? And let’s not forget that Apple has wiped roughly 1% of its catalog in one fell swoop. Could more be on the way?

P.S. What’s comical about this situation is that SCW feels entitled to an “investigations reward.”

More on Time.com:

The Top 10 Best of Everything 2009: iPhone Apps

The 50 Best Inventions of 2009

Tech Buyer’s Guide 2009