There's been a significant amount of controversy in the app developer community this week after Apple removed a well-respected app called Dash from the App Store. In addition, it's terminated the account of its developer, Bogdan Popescu, for alleged review manipulation.
“Almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews were detected across two accounts and 25 apps for this developer so we removed their apps and accounts from the App Store.
"Warning was given in advance of the termination and attempts were made to resolve the issue with the developer but they were unsuccessful. 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.“
In a further response (opens in new tab) to Apple, Popescu updated his blog explaining that a number of years ago he created another account for a family member and purchased her Apple’s Developer Program Membership using his credit card.
According to Popescu, the fraudulent activity has been coming from this account, which he had not realized Apple considered to be linked to his own. As all warnings from Apple were sent to this other account (which his relative failed to notify him on), Popescu was not aware of Apple’s ongoing investigation and was, of course, surprised when his Dash development account was terminated.
To look at the two developer accounts, it does seem odd that Popescu, whose Dash app is well made and popular, would have any direct involvement with the other account (opens in new tab) which is largely populated by poorly made apps and appears to have been the source of the fraudulent activity.
Now that events have been made clear to both parties, and everyone else, we will keep an eye on how things develop.
In a phone call with Apple which Popescu recorded, it appeared the company was willing to resolve the situation and help Popescu reinstate his developer account. So it should only be a matter of time before the matter is resolved with lessons learned on both sides.