1% of App Store inventory removed in ratings scam

Apple has removed iPhone developer Moliker and it's catalog of over 1,000 apps after it was discovered to be participating in an App Store ratings scam.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor on

Apple has removed a large iPhone developer and its catalog of over 1,000 apps after it was discovered to be participating in a ratings scam.

Moliker Inc., developer of over 1,000 titles including Mobile Travel Guide (pictured), is accused of giving its own apps 5-star ratings in an attempt to raise average ratings and boost sales.

According to App Advice:

Many of their apps had around 50 five stars reviews. SCW found this to be a bit suspect and decided to examine these reviewers a little closer. When he looked into those reviewers they were surprisingly only reviewing molinker apps and rewarding them all a five stars. Furthermore the reviews were all poorly written. What SCW deducted is that the developer was probably using his promocodes (every developer gets 50 of them for every app) on 50 of his own accounts to review his own apps.

Smelling a rat the user fired off an email to Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller explaining his suspicions. Schiller pretty much wasted no time and banned Molinker and removed all of its 1,011 apps from the App Store, confirming "Yes, this developer’s apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either."

Now, clicking on any of the company's App Store links results in a "not currently available" error from the App Store.

An interesting takeway from this story is that Moliker was responsible for almost 1% of all apps on the App Store. That would be the equivalent of releasing an app a day for almost three straight years. App Advice's Alexander Vaughn wondered "if their business model was to copy other apps and then rate them themselves."

Could other unscrupulous devs be fluffing their app ratings with promo codes and fake accounts? With the amount of money at stake in the white hot App Store it's inevitable that someone would try to game it. It's neither the first nor last time that it's going to happen.

Just how rampant is the rating fraud? What is Apple doing about it?

Tip: AppAdvice via Gizmodo

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