As BrandingBrand.com (BB) stated, “Apple we have a problem.”
To Apple’s credit, it is removing fake apps as fast the New York Times and Post expose them, but it is reacting, not proacting as these apps don’t contain malware or other nasties – they just take your money and never deliver the goods. Why is Apple being targeted? iPhone users are easy marks for premium goods and Apple's vetting is not as good as it could be.
BB says there has been a surge of fake apps parading around as real retailers and ruining the reputation that brands have established. Even worse, some developers are using Apple Search Ads to promote the dodgy shopping apps. According to Branding Brand Index (BBI), 2 in 3 retailers don’t have an iOS or Android app, leaving plenty of opportunities for others to represent them in the app stores.
Fake apps have included hundreds of brands such as New Balance, Nike, Pandora, UGG, Coach, Converse, Louis Vuitton, and many others. Most of these have come from China.
Where Google Play has tightened up, and the occurrence of “spammy” apps has reduced, these apps have simply moved to iOS. iOS allows adware that pops up unwanted advertisements and Apple cannot stop that either as it is key to the whole advertising eco-system.
In the case of brands that do have shopping apps, the fake apps are made to mimic the real one — and sport voluminous merchandise pages, selector wheels for size and colour, and sophisticated checkout forms that can themselves spot fake addresses and credit-card data.
Thousands to tens of thousands of unsuspecting shoppers have downloaded fake apps and unwittingly sent the cyber criminals their details and payment thinking they are making a real purchase.
According to the New York Post Apple was approached for comment and the usually very helpful – not – officials would not comment.
However, Apple did comment to the New York Times a few days ago.
Apple spokesman, Tom Neumayr stated, “We strive to offer customers the best experience possible, and we take their security very seriously. We’ve set up ways for customers and developers to flag fraudulent or suspicious apps, which we promptly investigate to ensure the App Store is safe and secure. We’ve removed these offending apps and will continue to be vigilant about looking for apps that might put our users at risk.”
In September, Apple also embarked on a campaign to review all two million apps in the App Store and remove “apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines or are outdated.” The company says that a significant number of apps have been removed and that the review is continuing.
But despite Apple’s efforts, new fake apps appear every day. In some cases, developers change the content of an app after it has been approved by Apple’s monitors. In other instances, the counterfeiters change their names and credentials, and resubmit similar apps after one round of fakes is discovered.
BB CEO said Chris Mason, said, “This is the first year we’re seeing this kind of proliferation with Apple, and the brands are losing the game of Whack-a-Mole. It is vital that brands monitor how their brand is being used.”