There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether or not 99 cent apps are ruining the app store, but more than the price, it’s the abundance of crapware that can often make browsing the app store a somewhat jumbled experience. While there are certainly an impressive number of great iPhone applications that do amazing things, the following example of iPhone apps epitomizes everything that’s wrong with the app store: Shitty software with limited functionality that doesn’t perform as advertised. In this post, we’ll look specifically at iPhone apps developed by ‘Ethan Productions’.
A “Weather History” app that gives you a date, but not a year. Lovely!
There are 39 programs in the App store that were developed by ‘Ethan Productions’, including the one pictured above. Nearly all of Ethan Productions’ applications are 99 cents and generally offer functionality that can easily be attained for free. Some of the applications include titles such as “Quote of the day”, “Insect Picture of the Day”, and “This day in history”. In addition, there are language apps that give you a new “word of the day” in either French, Italian, German, Russian, Irish, or Spanish. And oh yeah, each language has its own unique app, and for all of the above mentioned apps, you have to wait 24 hours for each fact/picture/word to refresh.
So what’s the problem? Well, nearly every app from Ethan Productions has abysmal reviews that complain about apps that don’t work, have too many ads, and even a few that suggest the developer ripped off ideas for already existent free applications. In addition, every app from Ethan Productions has a 5 star rating from someone named “EthanWA”, presumably the developer himself. Also, any glowing review for an Ethan Productions app seems to have been written generically by someone who gave every app from Ethan Productions 5 stars. Essentially, the only positive reviews are from Ethan himself and his buddies. And if that weren’t enough, EthanWA took the time to give competing applications 1 star reviews.
Some of the reviews from EthanWA for his own apps include:
- “This app is sweet. AMAZING pictures. I love that I can just take a screenshot and save the pic as my background. Great app. Highly recommend”
- “Been looking for something like this”
Some of the user reviews, however, aren’t so forgiving:
- “Stop charging money for crap we can easily get for free via the web”.
- “EthanWA – interesting how you give every EA Productions program 5 stars and then give every competitor 1 star. And you have the same name as the guy in charge of EA productions. Weak.”
Regarding his “Word of the day” app, one user wrote,
“Only displayed one word due to a ridiculous amount of ads. Completely unusable”
And another wrote,
“Why can’t you use normal ads like most ad-supported apps? I touch the screen and an ad appears and I can’t do anything. It’s ridiculous. I deleted this app in less than 5 minutes..”
Ethan Productions even has a 99 cent app that counts down the days till Obama takes office. The reviews for this app are pretty funny.
- “Too bad I can’t give it 0 stars..”
- “I downloaded this just so I could write a review about how stupid the developer is.”
Clearly, Apple needs to do something about developers like EthanWA before their lowest common denominator crapware proliferates the app store to such an extent that users have trouble finding worthwhile apps. And as the app store continues to grow, this problem will only become more apparent. It’s unclear, however, what steps Apple can take to combat this. Should apps with abysmal reviews be tossed out of the store after a few weeks? Should they be relegated to a less prominent “sale bin” area of the store, separate from the other more quality apps? Eventually Apple will need to take note of this before browsing the app store becomes too much of a hassle for users. Until then, users will have to navigate around applications such as the following: