Just over a week ago I posted news that app developer Molinker had been banished from the AppStore and all their apps (over 1,000 of them) had also been removed. It didn't take long before this news was buzzing all over the internet, and whilst there was some accurate reporting of the events that lead to this happening, there was a lot of inaccurate reporting, so in my final post on the Molinker scam, I wanted to clarify the people involved and the roles they played in the downfall of this prolific app developer.
It all started back on the 28th of November following an email from Patrick Timney (a.k.a. SCW), one of the iPhoneography blog regular readers and contributers, as well as a friend, where Patrick had uncovered what he believed was evidence of a reviews and ratings scam taking place in the US AppStore. The information supplied by Patrick was so overwhelming that I passed on Phil Schiller's email address to Patrick so he could email his findings to Apple to investigate. To back up Patrick's email I also forward his original email and details of the scam to Phil Schiller and Phil Shoemaker to ensure the details reached the right people. I quickly got a reply back from Phil Schiller confirming he had already received Patrick's email and that Apple would be investigating these allegations, and so my first post on this possible review and ratings scam went up on the blog.
Fast forward to Saturday the 5th of December, and a quick check of the US AppStore by Patrick revealed that ColorMagic (one of Molinker's apps) was still on the front page as one of the 'Staff Favourites', and OOF (another one of Molinker's apps) was still listed in the top 20 photography apps section.
A day later on Sunday the 6th December (just over 1 week after my initial post and our emails to Phil Schiller) I got notification from another app developer that they had noticed that all of Molinker's apps (over 1,000 of them) were no longer listed in the AppStore, so I pinged Phil Schiller another email, and he replied confirming "this developer's apps have been removed from the App Store".
Upon confirmation from Phil Schiller that this developer and its apps had been removed from the AppStore, I posted the following article "Breaking News: Molinker expelled from the AppStore". The very same day this news got picked up by appfreak who posted "The AppStore ratings scam. How the commitment of the app community kicked out developer" on their blog.
The very next day appfreak posted an email response (see below) they had managed to get from developer Molinker, who said "we do not know what's wrong so far".
Thank you for your message about it.
We got email from Apple yesterday [Sunday 6th] which told us our contract is changed to pending status.
Actually, we do not know what's wrong so far. We had contacted Apple for such sudden changes, hope we can get quick response and actions from Apple.
Thank you for your support!
A few other blogs picked up this story, and one of them, iPhone Savior, interviewed Patrick for their blog, which can be read here.
Following appfreak's and iPhone Savior's posts it wasn't long, just a day later, on Tuesday 8th December, that the big news and tech sites caught wind of the scam and the heavy blow Apple had given this developer, and so this news appeared on sites like CNN in the USA and Sky News here in the UK. Now whilst some of these sites researched and reported on this story correctly, I was surprised just how many had ripped the story from sites that had inaccurately reported the events, those involved and the roles they played, so below I have listed they dates, those involved and the roles they played in the downfall of Molinker.
- Friday 27th November and I get an email from Patrick Timney (a.k.a. SCW) asking for my help in getting details of a scam in the US AppStore publicized.
- Friday 27th November and Patrick and myself email Phil Schiller about this possible scam.
- Saturday 28th November and I post news on the iPhoneograohy blog about this possible scam.
- Saturday 5th December and Patrick checks the US AppStore to see if any of the Molinker apps are still listed, and they are.
- Sunday 6th December and I get tipped off that Molinker are no more, and that all their apps have been removed from the AppStore.
- Sunday 6th December and both myself and Patrick email Phil Schiller for clarification on the app removals and we both get confirmation that Molinker have been removed from the AppStore.
- Sunday 6th December and I post news of Molinker's expulsion.
- Sunday 6th December and appfreak pick up on the story and post news of Molinker's expulsion on their blog.
- Monday 7th December and appfreak post the reply they got from Molinker regarding this situation.
- Monday 7th December and iPhone Savior pick up the story, posting an interview with Patrick Timney.
- Tuesday 8th December and this story goes global appearing on news and tech site everywhere.
During this past week I have seen a lot of comments on this and other blogs expressing how crap the Molinker were, and how people had been deceived and ripped off by these fake reviews, and people have been asking if there is any way they can get their money back, well there may just be a way. Over on a blog called App Rejections, they covered this news worthy story, but added the following comment...
"for the non-developers among you, note that Apple sends out revenue checks on a 1-3 month delay. With minimal effort, they could withhold/cancel up to 3 months revenue from Molinker, so this could be a serious blow financially as well as reputationally."
...so there may just be a way of getting your money back after all, but don't ask me how to go about it, but instead check out the iTunes support page.
So to summarize, Patrick Timney was the person who uncovered the scam, and it was me (Glyn Evans) via the iPhoneography blog that publicized the story that lead to Molinker being banished from the AppStore for ever, but oh, in Steve Job's fashion, there is just one last thing.
- Thursday 10th December and Patrick got interviewed by CTV / A-Channel News, which you can watch below.
So that's how the AppStore came to be 1 developer down and over 1,000 apps lighter.