Apple bills the App Store as a refuge from a potential Wild West situation, praising the digital storefront’s security and curated content. However, the years have not been necessarily kind in the latter’s regard.
It turns out Phil Schiller has not been a fan of the idea of rip-off apps finding their way into the App Store for years. Dating back to 2012, in fact. And considering they’ve continuously popped up, Schiller has raised concerns ever since.
Scam apps find ways to look like legitimate options, but then milk money from customers, and also steal potential sales from real apps. One such app made its way to the #1 spot in the App Store back in 2012 and Schiller made it very clear that he was not a fan of that fact.
In an email exchange published to Twitter today (made public from the Epic Games vs. Apple antitrust lawsuit) by Patrick McGee and Jacob Terry (via MacRumors), Schiller used some very aggressive language to show he was not pleased by the app situation in the App Store.
Phil Schiller in 2012, after a rip-off app hit #1: "What the hell is this?????
…. Is no one reviewing these Apps? Is no one minding the store?" pic.twitter.com/pNaozl6hv1
— Patrick McGee (@PatrickMcGee_) May 3, 2021
Schiller asked, “What the hell is this????”, including those four question marks. That was just the opening salvo, as Schiller went on, questioning how an obvious rip-off of the popular game Temple Run had reached the top spot in the App Store. Schiller pointed out that the rip-off game had “no screen shots, garbage marketing text, and almost all 1-star ratings”.
Schiller then added, definitely hammering the nail:
Is no one reviewing these apps? Is no one minding the store?
Scam apps have been a constant problem for the App Store for years now, and that’s especially true as its popularity has only increased. As such, reviewers have had to work harder to try and catch these apps before they can do any real damage, both to developers and consumers. But, in many cases, it doesn’t work out like that.
We recently reported that one customer was duped by a scam app and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these apps.
In 2015, Schiller pointed out that an automated system needed to be developed to prevent these apps from sprouting up in the App Store:
Phil Schiller, 2015:
“[this scam app] is a great example of the stuff we should have automatic tools to find and kick out of the store. I can’t believe we still don’t.”
“and PLEASE develop a system to automatically find low rated apps and purge them!!” pic.twitter.com/fhFvja7vXs
— Jacob Terry (@jerkob) May 5, 2021
A lot of different apps have been hit with imposter versions. Minecraft, for instance, saw a lot of imposter options pop up once it launched on mobile. But there are so many scam apps out there that it has grown into a major problem for Apple.