Apple's iPhone is hugely successful, largely due to the number of "apps" it offers to the user. Apps are applications created by third parties which are used for a variety of things including games, photography, translation, maps, recipes, and hundreds of others. Apple users can rate apps (5 stars is the highest rating), and these user ratings have a big impact on which apps other people buy and use.
This week, Apple removed iPhone developer Molinker Inc. and it's entire catalog of apps due to an app ratings scam. A British blogger first caught on to what was happening when a reader alerted him. Together, they did some research and found that many of the comments and reviews on Molinker products came from people who had ONLY reviewed Molinker products, and have given them all 5-star ratings. For example, an app called NightCam Pro had received 44 reviews, 42 of which were "overwhelmingly positive and badly spelled", according to Glyn Evans who blogs at iphoneography.com
According to App Advice
Many of their apps had around 50 five stars reviews. SCW found this to be a bit suspect and decided to examine these reviewers a little closer. When he looked into those reviewers they were surprisingly only reviewing molinker apps and rewarding them all a five stars. Furthermore the reviews were all poorly written. What SCW deducted is that the developer was probably using his promocodes (every developer gets 50 of them for every app) on 50 of his own accounts to review his own apps.
After being informed of these suspicious activities, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller banned Molinker Inc. and removed all if it's apps from the App Store, stating, "Yes, this developer’s apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either."
In total, 1,011 apps from Molinker were removed, which accounts for 1% of all apps in the app store, and clicking on any of Molinker's links to the App Store results in an error reading "not currently available."