At the same time, Apple was claiming it Great app store revenue growth This week, developers and eminent app store critics Costa Eleftherio Another app store that looked like a scammer came to light. On Twitter, Earnings document for a music syncing app called Eleftheriou AmpMe, Which claims to increase the volume of your music by syncing to devices including friends’ phones, Bluetooth speakers and computer speakers. AmpMe, he found, was charging an incredible 10 per week for this basic service, which it was promoting in the App Store through fake reviews.
AmpMe iOS app Some of its features require no subscription to be used, but if you want to sync your music to other devices – the main reason users probably downloaded the app in the first place.
Eleftheriou Noted He called the price of the offer “an absurd $ 10 / week (~ 520 / year)”. Subscriptions also renew automatically, as do most in-app subscriptions. And while Apple makes it easy to sign up and subscribe, unsubscribe can only be displayed from the subscription section of your account page, which you can get from the App Store or the iPhone’s Settings app. You cannot cancel within the app.
AmpMe did not attempt to deceive users, at least not about its pricing. The sign-up page clearly states that its free trial was offered for only three days and then subscribed by $ 9.99 per week.
But where Apple violated the rules of the App Store, how did it market to potential customers?
AmpMe bought a ton of fake reviews, as evidenced by the large slate of its five-star ratings. Related to unnecessary names. These names – like Nicte Videlerqhjgd or Elcie Zapaterbpmtl, for example – looked like someone had massaged buttons on a keyboard. But critics were sure to leave a positive response, e.g. “That’s great!” Or “Super useful” Or “No other music apps required!”
(Interesting thing, These same critics left flashy five-star reviews In other apps too, and all in one day! That’s suspicious!)
Fake reviews gave the app an overall rating of 4.3 stars in the App Store, making it look like a legitimate and useful music syncing tool. Meanwhile, real reviews – where legitimate App Store customers complained about abusive pricing, basic functionality or blatant fake reviews – were drowned out by spam.
Apple has not taken action against the app, which has been misleadingly marketed for years. And to make matters worse, it also promoted it several times through the App Store’s editorial collections. Eleftheriou pointed out.
He concludes that Apple not only delays the search for app store scammers, it may actually be discouraged to do so because of the app’s revenue potential. (The only other possible conclusion here is that Apple is only incompetent when it comes to keeping the App Store safe for consumers … which doesn’t really look good.)
Citing data from Appfigures, Eleftheriou notes AmpMe pulled $ 13 million in lifetime revenue from the App Store, following Apple’s cuts.
Another firm keeps this figure even higher. Apple has made 16 million since Apptopia started monetizing TechCrunch through in-app purchases in October 2018; Of that, 15.5 million came through the App Store and another $ 500,000 came through Google Play. While the majority (or 75%) of in-app purchase revenue comes from consumers in the US, AmpMe has seen 33.5 million lifetime installations, of which 38% are from the US.
In a response provided to TechCrunch, AmpMe disputed some of the claims made.
The company says its users aren’t paying $ 520 per year – what $ 10 per week adds if users keep subscribing. Instead, AmpMe told its paying users, its average annual subscription revenue is about $ 75. This indicates that users are taking advantage of the free trial and unsubscribe after a while. AmpMe also said that, internally, it reinforces the belief that its value is transparent and its opt-out processes are easy.
However, the company does not have a good answer as to why its app store listing is full of fake reviews, as an alternative to blaming an unknown third party instead.
“Like many startups, over the years we have hired outside consultants to help with marketing and app store optimization. Additional inspections are needed and we are currently working, “said a statement from an unnamed AmpMe representative.” They signed the “AmpMe team” email.
In addition, the company is responding to this recent release by releasing a new version of the app with a lower price point.
“We always adhere to Apple’s membership guidelines and work to ensure that their high standards are met,” the email said. “We also respect and appreciate the community’s response. Therefore, a new version of the low priced app has been submitted to the App Store for review. ”
That version has since gone live and sees weekly subscriptions drop from $ 9.99 to $ 4.99.
Today, Eleftheriou tells us that the manual cleaning of these fake reviews seems to be underway now.
At 11 a.m. Monday, he documented 54,080 reviews of the app. Tuesday at 9pm, after AmpMe It was seen A fair bit Of Bad Press, The app’s review count dropped to 53,028. By 7 a.m. Wednesday, the review count had dropped again to 50,693. But the overall evaluation of the app has not been significantly affected. This may be because the removed reviews were submitted by fake App Store users who were given a five-star rating instead of the app but no review text or reviewer’s name appears. This means that the cleanup process will make it less clear that Apple purchased the fake reviews.
Also of interest is, perhaps, the CEO of AmpMe: Martin-Luke Archambalt, a Canadian technology entrepreneur. His Wajam software-made-adware Was previously researched by Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), and Canada’s Internet privacy laws were violated By collecting user data without consent. It also uses a number of methods to avoid being detected by antivirus software, reports say Claimed At that time When the OPC announced its findings, Arcambult claimed that the Canadian user data in question had been destroyed and that Wajam had sold its assets to a Chinese company. During its lifetime, adware was installed millions of times, the OPC report said.
In other words, it doesn’t look like anyone is opposed to buying fake reviews!
AmpMe has not responded to further follow-up questions beyond its original statement, and Apple has not responded to a request for comment.