Music app AmpMe slashes prices after being accused of being an App Store scammer – TechCrunch
At about the same time, Apple was touting the revenue growth of the big App Store this week, App Store developer and critic Costa Eleftherio He brought to light what appeared to be another App Store scammer hiding in plain sight. on TwitterAnd Eleftheriou has documented the profits of a music sync app called AmpMe, which claims to boost the volume of your music by syncing it across devices, including friends’ phones, Bluetooth speakers and computer speakers. He found that AmpMe was charging $10 a week for this basic service, which she was promoting on the App Store via fake reviews.
The AmpMe iOS app doesn’t require a subscription to use some of its features, but it does if you want to sync your music with other devices – which is the main reason why users download the app in the first place.
Eleftherio pointed This offer was priced at what he called “ridiculous $10 a week (about $520 a year).” Subscription also renews automatically, as most in-app subscriptions do. And while Apple makes it easy to sign up and stay subscribed, opt-outs can only be made from the Subscriptions section of your account page, which you can access from the App Store or the iPhone Settings app. You cannot cancel within the app itself.
AmpMe hasn’t tried to deceive users about its pricing, at least. The sign-up page clearly stated that its free trial was only offered for three days and would then be followed by a $9.99 per week subscription.
But just in case the app went against the App Store rules, it was the way the app would market itself to potential customers.
AmpMe has bought a large number of fake reviews, as evidenced by the list of big five-star ratings Associated with meaningless names. Those names – like Nicte Videlerqhjgd or Elcie Zapaterbpmtl, for example – sounded like someone had mashed the buttons on a keyboard. But reviewers were sure to leave positive feedback, like “It’s so good!” or “Very useful” or “You don’t need any other music apps!”
(Interestingly, Those same reviewers left glowing five-star reviews On other apps too, all on the same day! That raises doubts!)
Fake reviews have given the app an overall rating of 4.3 stars on the App Store, which makes it seem like a legitimate and useful music sync tool. Meanwhile, real reviews — legitimate App Store customers complaining about outrageous prices, basic functionality, or obvious fake reviews — are drowned out by spam.
Apple hasn’t taken any action on this deceptively marketed app for years. To make matters worse, it has been promoted several times through App Store editorial groups, Eleftherio noted.
The conclusion he draws from this is that Apple is not only tolerant of hunting down App Store scammers, but may be unmotivated to do so due to the scam app’s earnings potential. (The only other possible conclusion here is that Apple is incompetent when it comes to keeping the App Store safe for consumers…and that’s not really a good look either.)
Quoting data from Appfigures, Elefthrio notes that AmpMe has generated $13 million in revenue on the App Store, following Apple’s downgrade.
Another company puts the number even higher. Apptopia told TechCrunch that the app has earned $16 million since it began monetizing through in-app purchases in October 2018; $15.5 million of that was earned through the App Store and another $500,000 via Google Play. The majority (or 75%) of in-app purchase revenue has come from US consumers To date, AmpMe has seen 33.5 million lifetime installs, 38% of which are from the US
In a response to TechCrunch, AmpMe disputed some of the claims made.
The company said its users don’t pay $520 a year — what a $10-a-week subscription would add if users stayed subscribed. Instead, AmpMe said across its paying users, average annual subscription revenue is around $75. This may indicate that users are taking advantage of the free trial and then cancel the subscription after some time. AmpMe also said that, internally, this reinforced its belief that its pricing is transparent and its unsubscribe procedures are easy.
However, the company didn’t have a great answer as to why its App Store list was filled with fake reviews, opting to blame an anonymous third party instead.
“Over the years, like most startups, we have hired outside consultants to help us with marketing and optimizing the App Store. More oversight is needed and this is what we are currently working on,” said a statement sent by an unnamed representative of AmpMe. e-mail “The AmpMe Team.”)
Additionally, the company said it was responding to these latest comments by launching a new version of the app at a lower price point.
The email read “We have always adhered to Apple’s subscription guidelines and are constantly working to ensure they meet their high standards.” “We also respect and value community feedback. Therefore, a new version of the app at a lower price has already been submitted to the App Store for review.”
This version has since been released and has seen the weekly subscription drop to $4.99 from $9.99.
Today, Eleftheriou tells us that it appears that manual cleaning of fake reviews is now underway.
On Monday at 11am, trust the app got 54,080 reviews. By Tuesday at 9 p.m., after AmpMe saw a fair amount of bad press, the number of app reviews had dropped to 53,028. By 7 a.m. on Wednesday, the number of reviews was down again to 50,693. But the app’s overall rating was not significantly affected. This may be because the reviews being removed are the ones submitted by fake App Store users rather than the ones where the app has a five star rating but no review text or reviewer name visible. This means that the cleaning process will make in-app purchases of fake reviews less visible.
Interestingly, perhaps, the CEO of AmpMe: Canadian tech entrepreneur Martin-Luc Arcambault. The Wajam-turned-adware program has previously been investigated by the Office of the Canadian Privacy Commissioner (OPC) and found to have violated Canadian Internet privacy laws by collecting user data without consent. It also used several methods to avoid detection by antivirus software, reports claimed at the time. When OPC announced its findings, Archambault claimed that the Canadian user data in question had been destroyed and that Wajam had sold its assets to a Chinese company. The OPC report stated that the adware has been installed over its lifetime millions of times.
In other words, this doesn’t sound like someone is against buying some fake reviews!
AmpMe did not respond to further follow-up questions beyond its original statement, and Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
So far, AmpMe has raised $10 million in venture capital funding, per Crunchbase data.