Though they occur rarely, counterfeit iOS apps hurt developers and users. Apple’s thorough review process should prevent counterfeiters from being able to sell a fake product in the app store. Despite Apple’s meticulous procedures, a counterfeit version of tap tap tap‘s popular Camera+ app was detected by the eagle-eyed Glyn Evans of iPhoneography.
Apple pulled the offending app from its App Store yesterday after learning of its existence.
While finding a counterfeit app is, thankfully, an isolated experience for iPad and iPhone users, it is still unsettling. As users, we need to know that the content we download from the App Store is accurately represented and free of malware.
For developers the counterfeiting jeopardizes the good will and a portion of the profits that the business has worked so hard to obtain.
A counterfeit app isn’t like a knock-off Gucci watch that someone might purchase knowingly at a steep discount. Instead, the app in question costs just as much as the real thing. In the case of the fake Camera+ app, the cost was only € 0.69, the potential was there for anyone who accidentally bought the wrong app to incur much greater costs if the app were a delivery vehicle for malware, as has already happened with counterfeit apps in the Android Marketplace.
How do you spot a counterfeit app? Hopefully, users will never see one, but it makes sense for users to pay attention to the app’s description before downloading it.
In the case of Camera +, the fake app was universal, while the real app is iPhone-only. Subtle differences such as different dates for the last update and the wrong developer might also be present. Because counterfeit apps are like to perform poorly they will probably also be sporting fake reviews, which can be spotted once you are aware of what to look for.