Much easier than you think. No need for any luck and perseverance.
At a world WWDC conference, Apple reported that it had already paid $ 70 billion to the developer, and 30% of that amount ($ 21 billion) – for the last year. This huge surge surprised me, because I did not notice that in the past year, I or my friends started spending more money on applications. I was interested – where did this profit come from? I opened the App Store to view the most profitable apps.
Step 1: Follow the money
I scrolled a list of applications in the Productivity category and found applications from well-known companies, Dropbox, Evernote and Microsoft. Nothing surprising. The tenth application in the list of the most profitable applications in the Productivity category was Mobile Protection: Clean & Security VPN [Мобильная защита: Чистый и Безопасности VPN].
Given the terrible name of the application (free-flowing with capital letters, There is a colon, the grammatical nonsense is "Pure and VPN Security"), I decided that this is some kind of error in the ranking algorithm. I turned to the analyst of Sensor Tower to check the approximate income of this application, and I was given a figure … at $ 80,000 per month ?? Yes, this can not be. Now I was really interested.
I went to see the details of the application and saw that the developer was called "Ngan Wo Ti Tui" [Ngan Vo Thi Thuy]. Is this a VPN service offered by an independent developer, which even the company was not allowed to organize? This is very suspicious. If you do not understand why: The VPN service, in fact, transfers all your Internet traffic through a third-party service. It turns out that in this case you are dealing with a random person who wants to access your traffic, and even failed to correctly write the name of the application, did not register the company.
Another reason for suspicion was the debility Description of the application:
According to him, the application is "full of opportunities." Well, something is really full. It turns out that "mobile protection" includes protection against duplicates in the list of your contacts. And this "scanning" is also what is claimed as a "fast and complete scan of Internet security." Five Internet access to a gentleman who will be able to discover the connection between Internet security and duplicate contacts.
There is so much suspicious, and I have not even downloaded the application yet. I checked the "reviews" tab and found there vague and obviously fake reviews:
I saw the dates of the reviews and asked another question: how long does the application exist? Judging by the Sensor Tower, the application is on the list of the 20 most profitable at least since April 20.
Step 2: deceitful behavior
From the interest in this supposedly profitable application, I downloaded it. That's what happens after the first launch:
Yes, "this application needs to go to Contacts for scanning Contacts." The only option is to press "Agree" and then iOS asked me if I want to give "oostup" to my contacts? No, thanks?
This stage I missed, and then the application stated that my device is at risk. Naturally. Also, the application is already ready for "analyzing device", "fast and full scan" and secure my Internet (I can not wait!).
I clicked the "analyze device" and saw the free memory and storage of my iPhone – Function is useless and has nothing to do with business.
I pressed the "quick scan and full scan", and saw the message "Your contacts are cleared, no duplicates were found" [Your contact is cleaned. No dupplicated found].
Excellent – no duplicates, except for an extra letter in the word "dubblikaty."
Let's finally secure my internet by clicking on "secure internet". And what does this come about? "Play without installation"? That's it!
We were given an amazingly generous offer to play bubbles without setting! I'm not sure how I deserved this amazing gift, but he'll have to wait. I clicked "x" to return to the security of my Internet.
On the next screen I saw:
Obviously, I seized the opportunity to " Smart anti-virus "by clicking on" free trial ". Free of charge, Christmas tree-sticks.
Touch ID? Okay. Hmm. Let's read the fine print.
"Full virus scanner, malware." What? I'm pretty sure that no application can scan my iPhone for viruses and malware because third-party applications Run in the sandbox, but continue reading.
"You will pay $ 99.99 for 7-day use."
Is there anything you can do again?
Then in the third line of the paragraph the small font iOS by the way tells me that by touching the Home button, I agree to start a subscription costing $ 100 in not I was at the touch of a $ 400 subscription a month that would redirect all my traffic to the scammer's server?
I think I'm lucky I read everything in fine print .But what about the other people ?
Step 3: from all this, and the profit is formed
Suddenly, it became clear how the application earns $ 80,000 per month. For a subscription costing $ 400 / month, you need to fool only 200 people to earn $ 80,000 per month, or $ 960,000 per year. Of this amount, Apple picks up 30%, or $ 288,000 – from just one application.
At this point, you still can not believe me. You may think, "Okay, there are only 200 people, but it's very unlikely that at least one person will download this dumb app, not to mention paying for it."
Perhaps you are his Do not download. I would not download. But I never clicked on Google Ad, but still, Google today has brought Adwords to around $ 700 billion. "Mobile protection: Clean & Security VPN" is now on the 144th place in the list of the most popular free applications for productivity in the App Store, and in April the number of downloads reached 50,000.
To get 200 subscribers out of 50,000 downloads, they need a conversion of only 0.4% – or maybe less, because the subscription is renewed automatically, so subscribers are piling up from the month To a month. You really can not imagine how one of your technically illiterate relatives accidentally (or even intentionally) subscribes to this "free trial period" to protect the iPad from viruses?
But how did this app reach 50,000 downloads?
I once read that a fairly large percentage of applications people find through the search in the App Store. Perhaps this application has an incredible search engine optimization. I looked in the application store for the virus scanner [сканер вирусов].
The first result is ads »Protection for iPhone – Mobile Security VPN.» It sounds familiar.This is not the same Application, it is possible to buy from within the application "free trial period premium protection" for $ 99.99, and it is on the 33rd place in the list of the most profitable applications in the category "Business."
Apparently, scammers are insolently enjoying Such relatively new and immature product, as advertising in the search results of the application store. No one filters or approves of advertising, that the advertising links look almost the same as the results of the search, and some advertisements occupy the entire first page of search results entirely.
Later I discovered that these are not isolated cases, and This can often be found in the list of the most profitable applications, and this happens not only with keywords related to security. Apparently, scammers bet on other words. Here is the search for the word wifi:
The first result is advertising "WEP Password Generator", the simplest random row generator, at a cost of $ 50 / month. He already earns $ 10,000 / month, despite the fact that he came out in April. Most likely, this is a clone of this application, which speaks of such a serious growth of this scheme, in which scammers are already starting to copy each other.
How to fix the App Store: what can you do
If this text is read by a developer with a morale below the average, congratulations! You have just discovered a relatively easy way to earn tens of thousands of dollars in the Apple App Store – at least until they change the policy. Otherwise:
1. Train your less knowledgeable friends and family in technology, how to check and cancel subscriptions. If they fall for it, let them ask for a refund.
2. Report fraudulent applications, if you see them, through the iTunes Connect Contact Us form. There you need to select "Feedback and Concerns", and "Report a Fraud Concern."
3. Distribute this article until Apple makes order.
How to fix the App Store: what Apple should do
It's hard to believe that Apple is not aware of this problem, because these applications are full of lists of popularity. They probably do not consider this too big a problem to deal with it, or this problem turns out to be very lucrative for their advertising in the search and the App Store itself. In any case, what can be done with this:
1. Remove fraudulent applications and return users money: the most obvious. Just hire a person who regularly looks at the best applications and removes fraudulent ones. They are not so difficult to notice. And people who bought fraudulent subscriptions automatically return the money.
2. Improve the interface for subscriptions via Touch ID: do not use the small font, with text in which the price is hidden. The price should be visible, and maybe you need to make a 5-second delay before buying. Also, probably, you can show here the most useful and new appraisals or reviews.
3. Strengthen supervision over subscriptions. How are purchases approved in the application called "Full Virus, Malware Scanner" worth $ 400 / month? Aw, have anyone home? When an ordinary person sees this name in a check that comes by e-mail, equipped with a green icon, he will not cancel the purchase, because it looks just as normal as his checks for Apple Music. At the same time, for some applications, such as described, the purchase in the application can be called "Free period for checking", but not be a free purchase.
4. Enter the cancellation of the subscriptions after the application is uninstalled. Many people with reviews in 1 star wrote that they continued to write off money even after removing the application. Most people believe that this should work just like this – so why does this not work? When a user deletes an application, ask him if he wants to cancel and subscribe. Of course, ask for confirmation of the solution so that it does not accidentally cancel Netflix.
5. Facilitate the cancellation of subscriptions. Subscriptions are so hard to cancel, that it seems that Apple, which emphasizes design, specially complicated the procedure. On iOS 10, canceling a subscription takes nine steps. Even installing a third-party keyboard is easier (in six steps). Simplify this procedure. And, no, a tiny button to "report a problem" on electronic checks is not enough.
6. Protect advertising in search of fraud and abuse. Scam is so easy, in particular, because of how new advertising is arranged in search. Many users, I think, do not even suspect that they click on ads. At the very least, it is necessary to check advertising for fraud before launch (this is what Facebook and Google do), and to make it more obvious that the first result is advertising.
7. Fine and sue. I made this offer last, as it is unlikely that Apple will do this. Now there is no incentive to not create fraudulent applications. The worst that can happen is that your account will be deleted, which does not matter, because the profit will remain with you, and you can register again. You need to create a deterrent, fine and sue the worst of the scammers.
Application developers take pride in the fact that their applications somehow improve the lives of people, that people are happy to pay for them and all are left to benefit. The creation of good applications requires skills in design, programming and sales, and a huge amount of work.
So, aside from the obvious moral problems of drawing money from defenseless people, it's extremely sad to learn that some developers successfully earn easy and unethical in a few hours Creating fake applications whose functionality is stealing money from less-informed citizens.
If someone reads this article from Apple – please make the right conclusion.
To be convinced I quickly found several other examples of fraudulent applications, in the amount of earning about $ 600,000 per month (or $ 7.2 million per year): 60k, 30k, 300k, 10k, 40k, 20k, 80k, 20k, 50k.