There’s some fresh evidence that appears to back up Apple’s side of the story in an ugly battle the company has been having with a developer who made a popular app.
To recap: last week, Apple booted a developer named Pogdan Popescu from the App Store. and banned a popular app he makes called Dash. Dash has been around for years. It lets developers easily find and insert snippets of code that they frequently use.
The story went viral because Popescu wrote a blog post saying that Apple had shut down his account without warning. Developers were angry and thought Apple was being “arrogant.”
Then more details emerged: Apple released a public statement that said it found 1,000 fake reviews tied to 25 apps across two accounts from this developer. The developer denied writing fake reviews then countered with a blog post saying the second account was something he set up and paid for as a favour to a relative, but it wasn’t his. He said Apple wanted him to post a blog post admitting wrongdoing, and he refused to do it. Instead, he published the final phone with an Apple rep who admitted that the fake reviews were tied to the second account.
The whole thing made it look like Apple had made a mistake in its accusations and was trying to make the developer take the blame.
However, a Macrumors forum user, “frumpsnake,” searched the Wayback machine, a site that captures historic snapshots of websites, and found that years ago, the developer in question had been aware of some of the apps on the second account, had even taken credit for writing at least one of them, and had been promoting at least two of them on his website and Twitter account.
Frumpsnake believes that the developer created a second account to house all of his less successful apps. There is no evidence in here that he sought out fake reviews for these apps. But even if one of his relatives was doing that unknown to him, Apple had reasonable reasons to believe both accounts were his.
The issue is a touchy one for Apple, and it stems from the fact that Apple alone can decide the fate of apps in situations like these.
For instance, in Popescu’s case, because the iPad version of his app is now banned from the App store, it’s toast. He simply can’t distribute it any other way, he says. (He is still distributing the Mac version via his website), he said in a blog post.
Meanwhile, like all websites that rely on reviews, the App Store is dealing with many developers who use fake reviews to game the system to gain more visibility for their apps.
This also angers developers, especially the small, honest ones, who feel like the cheaters get an unfair advantage.
Apple says it won’t tolerate this behaviour, telling us in a previous statement: “We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, on behalf of all of our customers and developers.”
Apple declined to comment on the recent findings unearthed on MacRumors. Business Insider has also reached out to Popescu for comment.
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