Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Apple Finally Cracking Down On Bogus App Reviews

Based on a story on MobileCrunch yesterday, and a follow-up on PocketGamer today, it looks like Apple is beginning to aggressively pursue and punish publishers who engage in App puffery with fake reviews. The new poster child of this nonsense is a company that creates photo Apps called Molinker... who just had all of its 1,000+ titles pulled from the store (ouch!). According to MobileCrunch, this latest action was prompted by sleuths at the iPhoneography blog, who noticed that the vast majority of Molinker Apps reviews were posted by folks who only reviewed that company's products, and who then had the gumption to pass their findings on to Apple SVP of WW product marketing Phil Schiller. The PocketGamer story goes on to pursue a post in touchArcade alleging that Gameloft may have engaged in a similar tactic on its Modern Combat: Sandstorm title.

I presume these allegations are no great revelation to anyone who reads this blog. C'mon, the practice of self-submitted bogus reviews has been epidemic in the App Store for a long time and I think many publishers now look at this as a cost-effective component of the marketing mix (a necessary evil) to help cut through the cluttered chaos of its 110k active Apps. As a result, savvy App shoppers and insiders pride themselves on being able to distinguish between the legit and the crap iTunes reviews... but more often than not, they totally discount this feature, preferring to rely on 3rd party reviews and recommendations from friends. In the meantime, masses of unwitting consumers are getting burned by crApps that they believe have been legitimately lauded by the community... which is bad for the entire business. I'm glad Apple is finally waking up to this, and I hope they continue with aggressive crackdowns, so that the reviews component of iTunes can start to mean something again (or maybe for the first time) and become a useful decision making tool for App consumers.

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