Apple’s Phil Schiller ranted about scam and knockoff apps on the App Store as early as 2012, per documents revealed in the Epic Games v. Apple trial.
In February 2012, Schiller sent out a furious email to the App Store team — which included Greg Joswiak, Eddy Cue, and Matt Fischer — about an apparently fake version of Temple Run. At the time, Temple Run was among the most popular iOS games.
“What the hell is this????” Schiller asked. “How does an obvious rip off of the super popular Temple Run, with no screenshots, garbage marketing text, and almost all 1-star ratings become the #1 free app on the store?”
He continued by asking “is no one reviewing these apps? Is no one minding the store?” before calling the situation “insane.”
At another point in 2012, Schiller brought several other apps to the attention of the app Store team, including a fake palm reading app and another app called “Hide My Fart,” which Schiller said “should never have been approved.”
The internal emails were revealed as part of Epic Games’ opening presentation in its trial with Apple. The slide deck contained other communications from different Apple executives about the prevalence of scam apps on the App Store.
Low-quality, knockoff, or outright scammy apps do sometimes slip through the cracks and make it past Apple’s App Review team. Earlier in 2021, vocal app developer Kosta Eleftheriou sued Apple over the alleged enablement of the app scams. Eleftheriou is known for highlighting several scam apps, including one that grosses $1 million a month.
According to a report from cybersecurity firm Avast, scam “fleeceware” apps cost App Store consumers more than $400 million. Other types of scams include knockoffs of established and popular apps.