A while later my iTunes Connect account started showing as “CLOSED” and my apps were removed from sale. I thought this was normal and part of the migration.
Today I called them and they confirmed my account migration went through and that everything is okay as far as they can tell. A few hours ago I received a “Notice of Termination” email, saying that my account was terminated due to fraudulent conduct. I called them again and they said they can’t provide more information.
The scariest part of App Store distribution
This is almost certainly a mistake, but even so, it’s a hell of a situation when another company can just mistakenly delete your business.
See also: other Dashes in the Mac App Store.
Update (2016-10-06): Chuq Von Rospach:
Apple really needs ways to communicate in these situations, a process for developers to appeal and work it out. FYI I’m available.
Apple contacted me and told me they found evidence of App Store review manipulation. This is something I’ve never done.
Apple’s decision is final and can’t be appealed.
So it doesn’t matter that they offer no proof.
Makes you wonder, if your competition could get you nuked by gaming your reviews?
I’m sure review manipulation happens for games and such, but it sounds pretty far-fetched for a well-known developer tool.
That’s what’s so galling about this. This has been done for millions of apps that have undercut legitimate developers.
Required reading for understand the MAS.
Scary stuff over at the @AppStore. Makes it hard to trust any of our businesses there.
1000s of apps pay for downloads and 5-star reviews. Apple pulls one down that never did.
All that good things happening on the App Store lately are being overshadowed by this.
I’ve had Apple claim that I was not allowed to appeal but I did anyway and ended up winning.
One of the best Mac and iOS apps I use. This also removed the program from purchases, so it can’t be downloaded again :-(
I did look into this situation when I read about it today. I am told this app was removed due to repeated fraudulent activity.
We often 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.
“If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps.”
To be fair, that line was removed from App Store guidelines on 13 June. So I guess running to the press is implicitly advised now?
David Owens II raises the issue that if the developer account is terminated, eventually the non–Mac App Store version of Dash will not be able to work with Developer ID.
While this is legal, and within Apple’s rights, it’s not what we’ve come to expect from a moral judicial system. No matter what the context, we expect that the accused see the evidence against them, we expect avenues for appeal to be made available, and we expect proportional penalties.
In the meantime, it’s our job to presume innocence in the absence of evidence. This is also a moral issue, and it’s true even if you’ve never heard of the developer.
1. Why do review manipulation on a niche app with no competition?
2. What are the odds its a mistake by the time a SVP responds?
Imagine instead if the App Store worked more like the web. Google dominates search, but they can’t shut down your web site. If you try to game the system, Google can remove you from search and limit your exposure. Likewise, developers should be able to distribute iOS apps with minimal involvement from Apple, yet apps that haven’t passed formal review won’t be searchable without a direct link, won’t ever be featured, and won’t show up in the top 100 lists.
Apple should focus on highlighting the best apps within a system that lets the app review team make occasional mistakes. There shouldn’t be such an easy toggle that wipes out an indie developer’s business.
Update (2016-10-07): Jeff Johnson:
It is said that distributing apps outside the Mac App Store is safe from meddling by Apple, because they cannot impose arbitrary rules on you or remove your apps from sale. That is true, to an extent. However, the potential still exists for Apple to put you out of business, for all practical purposes. The power to do this resides in Gatekeeper.
I do believe Bogdan when he says that he did not do what they have accused him of, not because I know him (although I did meet him in person once, just for full disclosure) but because there was no need for the reviews to be manipulated. The app is great, in a niche market with little competition, so why risk it for more good reviews? It doesn’t make any sense.
It’s a disappointing and messy situation whichever way you look at it.
Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.