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Astroturfing Catches Up With iPhone Developer

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Let the propaganda begin! Image Credit: Tom Dynia

Astroturfing is a form of propaganda that tries to deceive the consumer in believing that something is more popular than it really is.  Long used on the political front, it now appears it has creeped its way into the iPhone realm.

A particular iPhone developer, Molinker had over 1,000 apps pulled from the App Store for posting fake reviews.  It appears it wasn’t the doing of one “fake review” but over 40 bogus reviews for each app!

On a side note the article says that many of the reviews were badly spelled.  Does this mean that Molinker thought that by misspelling words in their reviews, that it would be more realistic and believable?

Forty fake reviews does seem pretty excessive.  However, what is the protocol if an employee of a company downloads an app and truly appreciates the work?  In a perfect world the reviewer would disclose their relationship with the maker of the app.  We all know that 99% of the time this won’t happen.

Every time I read a story like this it bugs me.  Not because someone is trying to get a leg up, but because it makes me realize how much junk there really is in the App Store.  I think Apple will need to address this issue at some point.  If they don’t developers will get frustrated as their App will easily get lost in the sea of worthless apps.


Written by wirebear

December 9, 2009 at 11:23 am

Around the Handy: Recent Smartphone News

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iPhone jailbreakers in the Netherlands get their just deserts. The Worm Has Turned: iPhone Exploit Gets Nasty.

Two is better than one.  New iPhone Ads Stick Up for AT&T.

Combining Chrome OS With Android Looks Like Google’s Endgame. Maybe Google really wants to be more like Microsoft rather than Apple after all!

Everyday it looks more likely that the iPhone and Android based phones will rule the mobile market. iPhone And Android Dominate Mobile Web Browsing.

The Smartphone Wars, One Year Later. Interesting article reviewing the last year in the smartphone battle.

iPhone Jailbreak Community

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George Hotz

George Hotz's self-portrait, he was the first to unlock the iPhone. Image credit: George Hotz

So is jailbreaking your iPhone everything hackers claim it to be?  Does anybody else get the feeling that these hackers have a clouded sense of reality?  That Apple somehow owes them something.

Brian X. Chen with Wired goes into the life of a hacker in his article Jailbreak Community Battles Apple for Control of iPhone. In the article, George Hotz the first to unlock the iPhone is portrayed as being a little pretentious.  At one point, Hotz doubts if a security expert could block his efforts.  What really tops it all off is the image in his Blackra1n software (used to hack the iPhone) that displays a photo of Hotz styled as an angel from a Caravaggio painting.   Really an angel!

If Apple wanted to make an iPhone that only had apps that featured cute pictures of animals, they have every right to do that.  If they want to block Google Voice they can do that.  In the end is it smart?  Hard to say, but Apple is where they are at by making some sound business decisions over the years.

What else is funny to me is that the complaint jailbreakers often use for unlocking their phones is AT&T.  So by unlocking your phone and letting apps run that might very well slow down the network is going to make things better? I would have to imagine that a lot of these relegated apps cause huge problems with AT&T and might be the real reason they don’t ever get approved.

Don’t get me wrong, hackers have their place.  They keep software companies honest and help move technology forward on occasion.  The better hackers are highly intelligent and are usually excellent programmers.  It would just make me feel better about them if they didn’t all have delusions of grandeur!

Written by wirebear

November 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Why Verizon Should Be Worried

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Motorola Droid: iPhone Killer?

Ken Dulaney with Gartner predicts that by 2012, Android will grab the No. 2 spot in the global smartphone market (Android is currently 6th place).  Dulaney goes on and says “because Android and Google operate in an integrative and open environment, [they] could easily top … the singular Apple.

It is easy to see why the experts believe at some point Android will pass the iPhone – it works on several different manufacturers’ phones.  This way to market is what excelled the PC past the Mac in the desktop computing wars.  However does this translate to the mobile phone market?


I would agree that Android can overtake the iPhone.  However the only way this will happen by 2012 is if there is an Android phone that is at least equivalent to the iPhone in the next year.  I have spoken to several colleagues, friends and family that told me the only reason they don’t have an iPhone yet is because they are on the Verizon network.  They then go on to tell me that once their contract is up they will be switching to AT&T and the iPhone.

I would have to imagine this scares Verizon more than it scares Google.  Once people switch networks to AT&T they might be there for a while.   Clark Wimberly with Android and Me noted that HTC already has an Android phone in the works for the AT&T network.  This gives AT&T customers that are sick of the iPhone the option to change to Android.  However as everybody knows there is still no iPhone on the Verizon network, so less people will probably be switching from AT&T to Verizon.

I think what this really means about the 2012 prediction is that it might be too soon.  Sure people in the next year with expiring contracts that move to the iPhone will have expiring contracts that are up again in 2012, but will the buzz of the Android phones be strong enough at that point to convince someone to change?

Either way if there is not an Android phone that is released in the next year that can pull its weight, we will continue to see the mass exodus to AT&T and the iPhone.  That will mean that many more people will go away from Verizon and it will also mean the iPhone users will be locked into that dreaded two year contract.  This will keep people on the AT&T network that much longer.

If I was Verizon I would be doing whatever possible to get the iPhone.  It might even be a smart move for Apple to partner with Verizon as this could totally stomp out the other budding smartphones.  It would be in the best interest for both Google and AT&T to have the exclusive deal between AT&T and Apple to remain.  You have to wonder how much money AT&T is forking over to Apple for exclusive rights.  That number has to be mind-blowing!

If the Droid phone is not a success, Verizon should be very worried.  As this is maybe their last chance to save a portion of their customers from changing to AT&T.

Written by wirebear

November 2, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Android vs. iPhone

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Can Android beat out the iPhone?

Call today the calm before the storm. Chris Ziegler at EnGadget Mobile believes that on October 28 the new Droid phone will be unveiled.  Verizon Wireless is claiming it as the “must-have device of the year”.  For Google’s sake this statement better be correct.

If the new Droid phone doesn’t stack up to the iPhone, it is going to be an uphill battle from here forward.  The iPhone is already leaps and bounds in front of any other competitor.  Every other platform at this point is playing catch up, due in large part to the Apple App Store.  Currently a lot of smartphone developers are simply saying “iDon’t” care about the other platforms because of the lack of a decent app store.

I personally think that there is room for several different platforms and welcome the variety.  I think that the key for Android is to find its niche in the market place.  What is that niche?  That is up to the brain power at Google to find out.

I think one of the more interesting underlying stories in the whole Android vs. iPhone story is the companies behind the platforms, Google and Apple.  Several years back both companies were seen as the sexy alternative to Microsoft products.

I sense a paradigm shift on the horizon.

I feel that in a way it is almost becoming “uncool” to like Google and Apple, kind of like it was (or is) to be a Microsoft advocate.  Sure people still hate Microsoft, but lately all the tech blogs are talking about the frosty relationship between Apple and their developers.  This is something you definitely would not have seen a couple years back.

The rest of the year should be interesting for the smartphone world.  My feeling is what happens over the next several months will clearly define the direction every smartphone developer will have to take.  If the Android “does” get the job done, then it will force Apple to take the next shot and step it up with the release of their next iPhone.

In the end, the consumer will definitely benefit!

Written by wirebear

October 27, 2009 at 4:46 pm

SportsBook: Pro Football Edition

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SportsBook: Pro Football Edition

SportsBook: Pro Football Edition

Finally!  After waiting several weeks in the review process, SportsBook: Pro Football Edition finally got approved for sale by Apple.   Luckily the app was approved on the first submittal.  Apps we have done in the past were not as fortunate, however those past experiences definitely gave us an advantage this time around.

One of our final decisions on the app was where to set the final price.  I do like how Apple has given their developers the ability to change the price on the fly.  This most likely will come in very handy with this particular app.

SportsBook: Pro Football Edition is not glamourous in the fact it can’t do a million different things.  However it is very functional in the sense that if you are looking for NFL scores, news and spread it definitely does the job.  We are considering expanding the app, however since the app went so long in the review process it took us a quarter of the way into the football season.  We are now considering to put the majority of our resources into one of several different apps that we currently have in development.

Written by wirebear

October 26, 2009 at 12:53 am

Posted in Apps

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Playing the waiting game….

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Apple has said that most (95%) of the iPhone apps that are submitted for review are approved within 14 days.

Well I like to report that WireBear is one of the unlucky ones.  Our recent app Sportsbook: Pro Football Edition was submitted back on October 7th.  When you log into iTunes Connect to check the status, you get the dreaded “In Review” statement.  I am not going to pretend that I know how to fix the process, however there has to be a better way.  Right?

I know the process is irritating for us and all other iPhone developers.  All you have to do is check every iPhone Developer blog on the internet to know that much.  My main recommendation would be for a little more transparency with the process.  Heck even an update of, “We are too busy to look at your app, we will get to it later” would be better than “In Review”.

They say patience is a virtue.  Apple is doing their darndest to teach their developer’s a lesson in it!

Written by wirebear

October 23, 2009 at 8:12 pm