— Mobile

Fleksy co-founder is suing Apple over lost revenue resulting from App Store scammers – TechCrunch

Kosta Eleftheriou, a co-founder of the Fleksy keyboard app, later sold to Pinterest in an acquihire deal, has been calling attention to Apple App Store issues like fake reviews, ratings, and subscription scams, as well as malicious clone apps, after his own app, FlickType, was targeted by scammers. Now, the developer is taking the next step in his App Store crusade: he’s filing a lawsuit against Apple.

The suit, which the developer claims was filed Wednesday in California Superior Court in Santa Clara County, alleges that Apple enticed developers to build applications for its App Store — the only place iOS applications can be legally sold — by claiming it’s a safe and trustworthy place but doesn’t protect legitimate app developers against scammers profiting from their hard work.

What’s more, the suit says, Apple is disincentivized to do so because scammers are generating revenue for Apple via their use of subscriptions, which involve a revenue share with Apple.

Eleftheriou has been personally impacted by App Store scammers. He left a well-paying job at Pinterest to develop his FlickType app, an alternative swipe keyboard for Apple Watch. After its launch, the app was targeted by copycat app makers who claim their apps offer the same feature set as FlickType but instead lock users into high-priced subscriptions for their poorly designed software. They also flood their apps with fake ratings and reviews to make them appear a much better option when users are looking for an app in this space.

Meanwhile, FlickType sports a 3.5-star rating, as it’s often dinged for Apple Watch platform issues that are outside the developer’s control or missing features users want to call attention to. Eleftheriou engages with his app’s users, however — responding to complaints and letting users know when features they’ve requested were added, or bugs have been fixed. Scammers simply buy enough 5-star reviews to keep their apps’ overall ratings higher.

In other words, Eleftheriou is doing the hard work of being an App Store developer carving out a category for swipe keyboards for the Watch. Still, his potential income is being shifted over to scam apps with a falsified App Store presence. In years past, Apple took issues of app quality seriously. It cleaned up shady subscription apps and removed clones and spam from the App Store through regular sweeps. It even once went so far as to ban apps built using templates to raise the bar on app quality, which angered small businesses that didn’t have the resources or funds to make more professional apps. (Apple later revised its policy to be more equitable.)

Katie Axon

Katie Axon is a 25-year-old junior programmer who enjoys listening to music, podcasting and theatre. She is kind and giving, but can also be very rude and a bit greedy. She is an Australian Christian. She has a degree in computing. She is obsessed with bottled water.

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