Has it ever happened to you that you are so impressed with an iPhone app after reading through its reviews only to find after purchasing it that your own experience with the app is not even close to what the reviewers said?
Folks at the iPhoneography blog have now unearthed an iPhone ratings scam that has wiped off close to 1% of the entire App Store.
The reviews and ratings scam comes to light after one of the readers of the iPhoneography blog revealed that a relatively less popular iPhone app, 'NightCam Pro' had nearly 44 reviews with 5 star ratings. What's more, each of these reviewers had posted all their reviews on iPhone apps released by just a single app developer – China based Molinker Inc. The issue which was brought to the notice of Phil Schiller from Apple resulted in an immediate removal of all the 1011 iPhone apps developed by the company from the App Store.
While the removal of 1000+ apps should come as a bolt out of the blue, not many should find the scam itself surprising. Most iPhone users would have come across reviews that appear shady at least once in a while. How does this actually happen? In this particular case, it is possible that the app developer made use of the 50 promo codes that Apple offers to the developers for every approved app to create these ghost reviewers. Ironically, one of Molinker's apps, ColorMagic which had nearly 203 fake reviews was till recently on the iPhone apps front page as an App Store 'Staff Favorite'.
Fake reviews and testimonials are nothing new in the world of marketing. And it is common knowledge that Molinker is neither the first nor shall be the last developer to have exploited the app reviews system. However, Apple needs to bring in more controls that shall help the customers make a more informed decision. For starters, reviewers probably need to be given a trust rating based on all their previous reviews which help the visitors decide if a particular review is from a person they may trust or is something they should probably ignore.
What's your opinion?