Apple has pulled developer Molinker's whole catalog from its App Store after discovering its reviews were apparently not genuine.
The developer had more than 1,000 apps in the virtual store including mobile travel guides, instant messaging programs, and camera apps. The company is accused of falsifying 5-star reviews to boost its average ratings, as well as giving away free copies of its programs for good reviews. Molinker has not responded to press inquiries as of the time of writing.
The issue first came to light when the blog iPhoneography was contacted by a developer who noticed the unusually high reviews for Molinker programs. The publication sent a notification to Apple's senior VP Phil Schiller, and he investigated the claims of fraud.
"Yes, this developer's apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either," Schiller said in an e-mail to the iPhone blog.
The App Store has been a wild success since it was introduced in the middle of 2008, and iPhone and iPod Touch users have downloaded more than 2 billion programs. If the allegations are true, Molinker was likely looking for a way to stand out from the crowd of more than 100,000 apps.
Apple has insisted on keeping tight controls over the App Store experience in order to address issues like ratings scams, as well as security and compatibility problems with the apps. The company's gatekeeper role has been criticized by a vocal minority because some developers said Apple's vetting process is arbitrary or unfair. For example, a South Park app was rejected for offensive material, but a baby-shaking program was briefly approved and sold.