There's been a lot of talk over the past couple of days around the fact that Dash has been removed from the various App Stores for allegedly manipulating its rating with fraudulent reviews.

I do believe Bogdan when he says that he did not do what they have accused him of, not because I know him (although I did meet him in person once, just for full disclosure) but because there was no need for the reviews to be manipulated. The app is great, in a niche market with little competition, so why risk it for more good reviews? It doesn't make any sense.

It's also very strange that this happened during a routine transfer of the apps to a new developer account. Yesterday I would have said there was still a possibility that it was some part of the transfer process gone awry, but after all the attention on Twitter and Phil Schiller looking into the situation directly, I think the decision would have been reversed by now if that were the case.

I have no reason to doubt that the email from Phil Schiller is real, but it's a little strange that the only official comment would go to someone not directly involved with the situation, even though Apple do have a bit of history with that kind of communication. The whole situation is weird, but phrasing like "repeated fraudulent activity" really doesn't look good.

The only other explanation is that a third party maliciously targeted the app and purchased reviews for it in the hope that this would happen. But who would do that? It seems unlikely.

Will we ever find out what really happened? Probably not, but it's a reminder who is in control of the App Store and how a single decision from someone inside Apple can potentially end your business. I think this post by Brent Simmons sums up how poor the communication in this process is when he says:

But we have learned that one of the features of the system is that Apple may accuse a developer of fraud, not provide any evidence to the developer, and then remove that developer’s apps, with no appeal allowed.

Of course, Apple may have supplied plenty more information to Bogdan which may not be public, but again I think that's unlikely.

Whatever way you look at this, it sucks for everyone involved, including the users of Dash who relied on it every day. As the App Store account has been completely shut down you can't even re-download the apps, even if you had purchased them. It's a disappointing and messy situation whichever way you look at it.

Dave Verwer  





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