Kosta Eleftheriou, a co-founder of the Fleksy keyboard app later bought to Pinterest in an acqui-hire deal, has been calling consideration to Apple App Retailer points like faux evaluations, rankings and subscription scams, in addition to malicious clone apps, after his personal app, FlickType, was focused by scammers. Now, the developer is taking the subsequent step in his App Retailer campaign: he’s submitting a lawsuit towards Apple.
The go well with, which the developer claims was filed Wednesday in California Superior Courtroom in Santa Clara county, alleges that Apple enticed builders to construct functions for its App Retailer — the one place iOS functions could be legally bought — by claiming it’s a secure and reliable place, however doesn’t defend authentic app builders towards scammers taking advantage of their arduous work.
What’s extra, the go well with says, Apple is disincentivized to take action as a result of scammers are producing income for Apple by way of their use of subscriptions, which contain a income share with Apple.
Eleftheriou has been personally impacted by App Retailer scammers. He left a well-paying job at Pinterest to develop his FlickType app, another swipe keyboard for Apple Watch. After its launch, the app focused by copycat app makers who declare their apps provide the identical function set as FlickType does, however as an alternative lock customers into excessive priced subscriptions for his or her poorly designed software program. Additionally they flood their apps with faux rankings and evaluations to make them look like a significantly better choice when customers are in search of an app on this house.
In the meantime, FlickType sports activities a 3.5-star score, because it’s usually dinged for Apple Watch platform points which are outdoors the developer’s management or lacking options customers need to name consideration to. Eleftheriou engages together with his app’s customers, nevertheless — responding to complaints and letting customers know when options they’ve requested had been added or bugs have been mounted. Scammers merely purchase sufficient 5-star evaluations to maintain their apps’ total rankings increased.
In different phrases, Eleftheriou is doing the arduous work of being an App Retailer developer carving out a class for swipe keyboards for the Watch, however his potential revenue is being shifted over to rip-off apps who’ve a falsified App Retailer presence.
In years previous, Apple took problems with app high quality significantly. It labored to scrub up shady subscription apps and take away clones and spam from the App Retailer via common sweeps. It even as soon as went as far as to ban apps constructed utilizing templates in an effort to lift the bar on app high quality, which angered small companies who didn’t have the sources or funds to construct extra skilled apps. (Apple later revised its coverage to be extra equitable.)
However the brand new lawsuit alleges that Apple is now doing little to police scammers’ apps as a result of it earnings from developer misconduct. Eleftheriou additionally notes he has raised these points to Apple by way of his firm KPAW, LLC, however Apple did “subsequent to nothing” to resolve the issue.
Eleftheriou’s story is much more difficult, although, as a result of his app was rejected from the App Retailer quite a few instances after assembly with Apple particular initiatives supervisor Randy Marsden over a doable acquisition. He tells Fundingnewsasia numbers had been mentioned with Apple and his conferences had included a Director and a VP, amongst others. Apple was contemplating turning FlickType into an Apple Watch function, the lawsuit notes.
Shortly thereafter, FlickType was pulled from the App Retailer over App Retailer Evaluate Pointers violations, whilst a competitor’s app was accredited. Eleftheriou appealed for his app via Developer Relations however was given no steering on the right way to forestall the identical drawback sooner or later, he mentioned.
Over the months that adopted, FlickType continued to face rejections from App Retailer Evaluate. Apple’s App Retailer Evaluate mentioned that the app provided a “poor consumer expertise,” regardless that tech journalists at quite a few retailers had praised it, and Apple had as soon as contemplating shopping for it. App Evaluate additionally informed the developer that “full keyboard apps should not acceptable for Apple Watch,” whereas it continued to permit opponents to publish their very own keyboard apps.
Apple’s App Evaluate group additionally allowed third-party apps that had been working FlickType’s integratable model of the keyboard to be accredited with out points. These included Watch apps like Nano for Reddit, Chirp for Twitter, WatchChat for WhatsApp, and Lens for Instagram.
After Apple accredited FlickType in January 2020, the corporate claims it had already misplaced over a 12 months of income to competitor keyboards that weren’t always being rejected. However, FlickType reached the App Retailer’s Prime 10 Paid app checklist and generated $130,000 in its first month. Because of its success, it was rapidly focused by scammers who launched watered down, barely usable opponents to the app, slicing into FlickType’s income. FlickType’s income dropped to simply $20,000 monthly. The opponents had been additionally utilizing faux rankings to get their app boosted and put in by unsuspecting customers.
Eleftheriou’s story was not distinctive, because it turned out. In current months, he has been documenting the App Store’s multimillion-dollar scams, together with these he was going through in addition to others dropped at his consideration by builders with related struggles. Apple, in some circumstances, would take motion towards the scammers he highlighted on social media. In different circumstances, it will not. And it will generally solely take down one of many developer’s rip-off apps, however permit others under the same developer account to proceed to function.
The brand new lawsuit goals to carry Apple accountable for the problems Eleftheriou confronted by asking Apple to revive his misplaced income and pay out another damages awarded by the courtroom.
Apple has not responded for a request for remark presently.
A replica of the lawsuit is beneath. It’s not but showing in public document searches for verification functions. We’ll observe as much as affirm when the case seems on-line and replace accordingly.