in Emprendimiento

App developers & publishers: beware of these lame App Store techniques.

You’ve been furiously working days and nights in your garage for a long time and been building what you think will be an amazing app. Things are coming along well and you’re almost ready to launch your ‘baby’. Then one day you launch it, see thousands of downloads and start getting featured in multiple sections on the App Store flattered by the fact Apple has recognized your hard work. Yes this is the life of the indie developer, or a young startup.

However there’s one thing that could overshadow the joy and excitement of launching a new app on the App Store; a smear campaign directed straight at you. Yup, you heard me right, a fucking smear campaign.

We’ve been witnessing a horde of app makers with deep pockets paying for positive reviews on the App Store. A bunch of paid 5 stars while immorally wrong couldn’t hurt anyone, right? Wrong. Especially when these publishers decide that paying for a bunch of 5 stars is not enough and start paying for 1 star review of your app. Why? Well simply because you’re their competition.

This is exactly what we’ve been witnessing in the past 24 hours for our iPhone app Unda.

Let me explain.

Below you can find a fresh snapshot of our app in the store.


Now to the image: You can clearly see that we have 3 negative reviews on our current version. One from the 28th of June, the other two from the 29th. And this is where it gets really interesting:

-A negative review entirely depends on a very subjective opinion of one person, right? but when that person deliberately promotes your competitor openly it starts to get weird.

-All of the 3 negative comments have this in common, and it’s funny cause one of the complains is not even true: we offer a second sign up option and not just Facebook Connect. Anyways.

-Now let’s look into a very tiny detail. When you click on these accounts you can actually see which apps they’ve reviewed in the past, and then it becomes pretty clear: it seems that these “users” just know 2 apps from the hundreds of thousands of apps available on the store, Glide and..wait for it… Unda.

Take a look of the following images where this last point is clear, oh and by the way, they’ve also trashed Snapchat in the process, how fucking lame is that?

review-1 review-2

Coincidence? or someone at Glide is paying to get Unda buried under negative reviews? While we were originally pissed, we’ll take it as a compliment – if a well funded company is using that kind of technique it means they’re SCARED of us.

Quick update *July 3rd*: 
Both comments were permanently deleted from the App Store, plus, there was an amazing discussion going on in Hacker News about this.

  • mikemike

    Time for a lawsuit, no? This nonsense has been going on since day one man. In 2009, there was a company that made over 300k in a month off paid downloads of an app that was ramped up to the top of the list simply by paying Mechanical turk users to download the app and rate it 5 stars.

  • Sandty

    If you are getting hundreds of downloads, and only have 3 negative reviews, I wouldnt worry much. Invite your users to review your app.

  • figarca

    Wow! I can’t believe that this happening. It’s very sad which a lot of people keep to this kind of techniques for fuck the hard work of else…

  • naendous

    thats fucked up lad… :(

  • kevrmoore

    Nice response, Akira. Cheating never wins in the end.

  • César Martín

    I think that´s the best thing to do. Invite your users to write reviews about your app. That´s a really hard thing to do, but if they love it, they will do that. We at do some testing and reviews for apps with real customers. If you need help getting the first 100 downloads and reviews, we can help you.