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App Store Wars: Developers, Spamming, Lying and Bogus Reviews

Apple’s App Store has become quite a source for commotion since being unveiled. The latest dilemma comes not from a situation between developers and Apple, but from two competing developers whose applications serve the same purpose.

NJection Mobile (iTunes link) is a speedtrap locating application selling for $0.99, just like Trapster (iTunes link) which is available free in the App Store. The developers of NJection Mobile are claiming that the people from Trapster are posting invalid and fake reviews, as well as searching for reviews on sites like this, and posting comments like these.

“I’m the maker of Njection Mobile (NMobile), an application available on the iTunes Application Store. It’s a driving application that alerts you to speed traps as you drive by them, and we’re adding support for alerts to traffic accidents and road work, so that you can be warned of traffic congestion before you hit it. Our goal is to keep drivers safe and driving under the speed limit,” the developer claims.

trapnject
A screenshot of what is allegedly a bogus review of NJection Mobile, by Trapster’s developer.

“We’ve still had decent sales, and no other 1 star reviews, but we can’t help but to think that this has negatively impacted our sales. We’re not a big iPhone development shop, and we have a limited market, so a visible review such as this one that is basically an advertisement for a competing app is a problem. All signs point to this review as being from our competitor. The only other review has been on our competitor’s app, and the same person has commented on every single article related to our app.”

Additionally, NJection Mobile’s developers claim that people from Trapster, or people associated with Trapster are going around and posting bogus and spammy message in iPhone business groups and forums around the web. From NJection Mobile’s developer who caught this email online. “And the sockpuppeting is not limited to reviews. This was a post in the iPhone Business Forum on Google that has since been removed,” they claim of the image below. “Almost all of the registering account were either using a trapster.com email account or refer back to Trapster.com website.”

trapnject
A screenshot from an anonymous user, who has allegedly been spammed.

Njection Mobile contacted Apple a few times and kept getting the same canned response.

Please know that iTunes takes customer reviews very seriously. We believe in the iTunes community and their opinions on our products and we will not restrict the community.

A review will not be removed unless an extremely false claim has been made or a comment has been made that will offend a number of people.

We understand that you are concerned about this, however, all applications are receiving customer reviews that could potentially be unfavorable and most of these reviews will not be removed. If you would like, you can mark this review as “unhelpful” to move it to the bottom of the review list.

Best Regards,iTunes Connect Support

It definitely seems like someone from Trapster is going around to all the reviews of NJection Mobile on different websites and entering the same comment or post: “Copycat of Trapster which is already on App Store (FREE!) with 100K iPhone users, has way more and better data, (plus supports lots of mobile devices and established for years).”

Perhaps some may see this as unethical, but it’s just business. If you have developed an application for the iPhone or iPod touch, get ready to defend it amongst a sea of incredibly opinionated Apple customers and developers alike. There’s so much controversy and heated debate swirling around the App Store, low-brow business moves are to be expected. While one negative review of any application that has 20+ reviews isn’t that big of a deal. Applications with less than 5 reviews may suffer greatly due to one negative review, and that review could be from a direct competitor.

When reviewing an application, users are encouraged to follow some guidelines Apple has set, including: “Praise applications on their own terms, not at the expense of other developers or their applications.” Clearly Jim from Trapster doesn’t appreciate Njection Mobile, and he has made sure to let everyone know his opinions.

Comments [21]

21 Comments to “App Store Wars: Developers, Spamming, Lying and Bogus Reviews”

dennis @ January 12th, 2009 at 6:35 pm
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Yeah, this shit is crazy. But it definitely comes with the territory. Don’t expect all scenarios to be cushy and warm reviews throughout. It’s cut-throat. Get used to it.

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Wulffrith @ January 13th, 2009 at 12:50 pm
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Some facts need to be set straight. I can factually say that the “email” – screen shot of (A screenshot of what is allegedly a fake email, by Trapster’s developer), was not sent by anyone at Trapster. It came from me (which I’m being anonymous/alias at this point), it was a post on in a google group.

I’ve found myself in the middle of a rivalry. My Trapster account was spammed, by who? I’ll just have to wonder. I called out a name in the email and should not have. BUT that (being spammed) is what made me upset enough to post what I posted in the Google Group. Their does appear to be some bad reviews going both ways. So that’s That. I did not write dishonest reviews about either app. I factually wrote about being spammed and how I felt (My opinion)

Trapster, Nmobile,

What I would be afraid of is if the going back and forth does not stop, Apple could pull both their apps off the iTunes App store. I don’t think NMobile or Trapster want that, and neither do their end-users.

Dennis,

Your right this is Crazy, and has been cut-throat

Let the end-users decide who they like, but lets be honest.

Now, everyone sing – Kum Bah Ya

: )

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Aviv @ January 13th, 2009 at 12:52 pm
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Thank you very much for the clarification Wullfrith. This story is definitely turning a little more heated than anticipated.

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jojo22 @ January 13th, 2009 at 2:00 pm
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What is this? High school? Apple should pull both apps. Neither work. I’ve tried them both… equally.

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Wulffrith @ January 13th, 2009 at 2:04 pm
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jojo22 -Do you have a fair amout of users in your area?

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norway @ January 13th, 2009 at 2:34 pm
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Although interesting. (I’ll give this story that much)… It’s a shame. These people need to contact each other and get it together. One app is FREE and the other is $0.99 ! I mean, come on ? Is this real?

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twittieRob @ January 13th, 2009 at 3:26 pm
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NJection is a tad wee better than Trapster, I will say.

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michelle o. @ January 13th, 2009 at 4:06 pm
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@twittieRob: I beg to disagree. Trapster is my choice. They both aren’t that great though.

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aE @ January 13th, 2009 at 4:12 pm
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Wulffrith – It says in Trapster’s EULA that he may sell the personal info you submit to him, and you are suprised that you got spammed?

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istara @ January 13th, 2009 at 4:29 pm
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The star system is weird. I looked at an app that had three stars. It had three reviews: two five star, and one three star. The three star reviewer said it was amazing and gave it huge praise (so why just three stars?)

But how 5+5+3 divided by 3 equals 3 is absurd.

And when there are a lot of reviews, maybe they should take the mode not the mean.

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wulffrith @ January 13th, 2009 at 5:07 pm
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aE – The Trapster private message account was spammed, not my personal address. Anyway that’s all from me

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Ron Manke @ January 13th, 2009 at 5:23 pm
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Apps get rated when they are deleted off of a person’s iPhone. I would assume that this gets added to the rating – without a corresponding review.

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Nathan @ January 13th, 2009 at 5:24 pm
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I’m an App Store developer and the comments are basically worthless. Almost always the only people who leave comments are those who have an axe to grind. Often the comments are the ever popular “should be free” or the classic “it doesn’t work”, which is obviously not true because 1000s of subscribers have no trouble using the software.

But the absolute worst ones will say “don’t buy this app, buy Product XYZ instead”. My space on the App Store is basically my storefront, and those comments are the equivalent of somebody blocking the door to my bricks-and-mortar shop and telling people to buy elsewhere. I’m 99% certain that comments like those are left by my competitors.

There needs to be some sort of review system but there also needs to be moderators and trusted reviewers.

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JJ8K @ January 13th, 2009 at 7:10 pm
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Well I’m annoyed that I didn’t fully read the terms and conditions of Trapster before I used it. I would rather pay a small fee and protect my privacy or inbox than get something “free” only to find my inbox full of spam. I can only blame myself for it though, I’m usually very careful with EULA’s.

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Volker @ January 14th, 2009 at 11:38 am
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What a useless App, both of them. WTF is stopping law enforcement officials from using this app to change their speed traps? Dumbasses, buy a radar, or obey the speed limit.

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JJ8K @ January 14th, 2009 at 12:24 pm
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I’m Sorry I don’t know what I’m talking about on the EULA’s

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Lost Guy @ January 30th, 2009 at 2:56 pm
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this might teach some youngsters to be vigilant in reading online reviews…. might be good for them at minimal expense

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Romain Coins @ March 8th, 2009 at 3:38 pm
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Its a new area so this isn’t really shocking. Does apple monitor these comments at all? do you have to buy an application before you can rate it? If not I think that would be a good idea.

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agnelroy1 @ June 28th, 2009 at 10:02 pm
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iPhone Application Development and Programming Services from Dot Com Infoway. Our iPhone App Developers are experienced in developing Xcode, ADHOC, Cocoa Framework based iPhone applications for many business areas

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agnelroy1 @ June 28th, 2009 at 10:03 pm
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iPhone is apple product,iPhone Application Development and Programming Services from Dot Com Infoway. Our iPhone App Developers are experienced in developing Xcode, ADHOC, Cocoa Framework based iPhone applications for many business areas

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dean collins @ December 28th, 2009 at 1:53 pm
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The domain http://www.MobileAppStore.com is now for sale.

What do you think about the current bid?

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