How Developers Are Making Over $80,000 A Month For Doing Nothing On Apple’s App Store

If you remember, Apple had previously stated how it paid developers over $70 billion through its App store. Apple had paid over $20 billion in the last year itself.

The new post on Medium from Johnny Lin throws some lights on how developers are taking advantage of Apple’s in-app purchase feature, combined with search ads.

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Johnny Lin had explained that Apple’s in-app purchase feature and search ads are what motivating users to subscribe to illogical services. Apps like virus scanners, VPN services, password generators are making lots of money for its developers. 


Johnny Lin wrote “I scrolled down the list in the Productivity category and saw apps from well-known companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Microsoft. That was to be expected. But what’s this? The #10 Top Grossing Productivity app (as of June 7th, 2017) was an app called “Mobile protection: Clean & Security VPN”

“Full Virus, Malware scanner”: What? I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for any app to scan my iPhone for viruses or malware, since third party apps are sandboxed to their own data, but let’s keep reading…”

“You will pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription”

“Buried on the third line in a paragraph of text in small font, iOS casually tells me that laying my finger on the home button means I agree to start a $100 subscription.”

Johnny Lin checked the Sensor Tower for an estimate of the app Mobile Protection: Clean & Security VPN revenue and found that the app brings around $80,000 per month in revenue. The app basically offers no services and makes money by scamming users to subscribe to their service.

Since Apple doesn’t have any filtering or any approval process for search ads, developers are manipulating App Store search ads to gain traction via fake apps.

Johnny Lin post also states “Turns out, scammers are abusing Apple’s relatively new and immature App Store Search Ads product. They’re taking advantage of the fact that there’s no filtering or approval process for ads, and that ads look almost indistinguishable from real results, and some ads take up the entire search result’s first page”

“Later, I dug deeper to find that unfortunately, these aren’t isolated incidents — they’re fairly common in the app store’s top grossing lists. And this isn’t just happening with security related keywords. It seems like scammers are bidding on many other keywords.”

iOS 11 will probably include search ad improvements that could prevent such spammy practices. Apple is yet to comment on this research. You can read the full blog post from here. So, what do you think about this?