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Apple has removed an app that many customers believed would allow them to play Flash videos.
Apple made waves last year when it refused to support Flash on iOS devices. Though the company has since modified is stance, allowing applications created in Flash to be translated into native iOS code, it has not offered native Flash Player support the way Google has on Android devices.
Regardless of Apple's feelings about the technology, there are still people who want to view Flash video on their iOS devices. And so there's demand for apps that provide a way to do so, like the Skyfire Web browser, even as Adobe is working to make Flash-to-HTML5 translation tools.
Flash Video Discover, released a week ago, appeared to be another such app and as of Wednesday morning it was the fourth best-selling paid app in the iTunes App Store.
But as of about 10:00 am PST on Wednesday, the app was no longer available in the U.S. App Store.
Apple, contacted prior to the app's removal, did not respond to a request for comment about the app.
At $9.99 per download, the app probably earned its creator, PLD Soft, a fair amount of revenue. Apps at that price point are typically major gaming or productivity titles from well-known software companies -- a lot of brand equity, or unique functionality, is necessary to support such a high price. However, if PLD Soft did violate Apple's rules, the company, or the individual doing business under that name, may not get paid.
PLD Soft could not be reached for comment. The company's iTunes App Store Web link leads to a Twitter account with no posts rather than a Web site. A Polish company operating under the name PLD Soft makes hardware and software for utility billing and appears to have nothing to do with Flash Video Discover.
Among the customers buying Flash Video Discover, about half of them expressed disappointment. The app had 108 five star reviews and 136 one star reviews early Wednesday morning. There were only there only one or two reviews in the four-star, three-star, and two-star range, a rather unusual pattern.
The supporters of the app claim that it works perfectly and does what the store description says it does.
A cursory reading of the store description makes it clear that the app doesn't claim to provide a way to view Flash video. The software may have appeared to play Flash due to use of what looks like an Adobe Flash icon -- a possible trademark violation. But the text never makes that claim. It explains what Flash video is and concludes, "This app is to demonstrate flash technology functions and capabilities only."
Those criticizing the app called it a fraud and complained that the software doesn't work as advertised, a view evident on a number of other Web sites. Even if the app isn't claiming to do what buyers believed it would, it looks a lot like an attempt to exploit the fact that people often don't read things carefully online.
Apple's removal of the app raises the question of how over 100 positive reviews could have been generated and shows that Google's Android Market isn't the only place suspect software can be found.
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