The other day the developer wrote Kosta Eleftheriou about a new app he had discovered that seems to have drawn in millions on the App Store through fake reviews and a fraudulent subscription model.
The app is called Ampme and unlike previous apps Kosta Eleftheriou has noticed, it is not an unknown app from an unknown developer. It was released as early as 2015 and in the first years it was reviewed by, among others The Verge and PC Mag. It had (and has) a unique idea: To sync music playback between multiple mobiles and bluetooth speakers.
In the beginning there were no subscriptions and the app was completely free, but sometime since then the developers seem to have decided that the best way to earn a hack on the app is to add an expensive subscription of 100 kroner in week.
Unlike similarly discovered apps with fake reviews, the company Ampme has also responded to the allegations. In a statement that has been sent to The Verge and Tech Crunch they write that they have “always followed Apple’s guidelines” and blame the false reviews on “consultants”. They promise to clean up among the reviews, and according to Kosta Eleftheriou have already started to do so. The price of the subscription has also been halved.
Ampme’s CEO Martin-Luc Archambault is a Canadian “serial entrepreneur” who, among other things, has been a judge in the Canadian edition of Dragon Nest.
He was also behind the browser extension Wajam which in 2012 was a practical search function for social media with after a few years had turned into ad mussel software that also started using tricks to avoid antivirus software and Windows Defender. That he would not mind making money from people failing to unsubscribe is perhaps not so surprising.
Sean Hollister at The Verge also points to Apple’s problematic role as the one to monitor the App Store and prevent users from being exploited while taking some of the revenue from said exploitation. And why has Ampme not been removed by Apple now? The developers acknowledge that many reviews are fake.