Apple finally bans dumbass and shady developer from the iPhone app store for copyright infringement

Wed, Aug 5, 2009

Analysis, Featured, News

With over 65,000 apps and growing, the iTunes App Store has a commanding lead over competing app stores.  But its large library of apps also makes navigating around and finding quality apps an increasingly tougher task for iPhone users.

The iTunes App Store has been likened to a gold rush, and as such, it’s filled with apps that effectively do nothing and are appropriately called “crapware.”  But there is only one man who can claim the title to being the “King of Crapware”, and his name is Khalid Shaikh.  And thankfully, Apple has tossed his ass, and his 900+ iPhone apps, out of the iTunes App Store.

Khalid Shaikh and his 26 person strong Pakistani-based team of developers have been churning out shitty iPhone apps at an appalling rate.  With 943 apps to their credit, they’ve been releasing apps at a rate of almost 5 a day for well over a year and a half.  While precise sales figures aren’t available, MobileCrunch discerned that Shaikh and his team were raking in a few thousand dollars in sales every single day.  You can check out a full list of Shaikh’s spammy and craptastic iPhone apps over here.

The ostensible reason Apple removed Shaikh’s apps and revoked his developers license is because many of his apps are in violation of copyright laws as they reference cartoons such as Rugrats, characters like Heathcliff, video games like Doom, and a variety of NFL and NBA Teams – all without any permission whatsoever.  Some of his apps even contained copyrighted music!  Apple had reportedly asked Shaikh about copyright issues relating to over 100 of his applications, but never received any sort of response.  Shocking.

As a quick aside, how did Apple ever let these apps through in the first place when it examines functional apps from reputable developers with a detectives fine tooth comb?  Who’s exactly in charge there?

The majority of Shaikh’s apps are buggy and have abysmal reviews, but then again, quality and usability weren’t his top priorities.  And when you’re releasing 5 iPhone apps a day, how can they be? Rather, Shaikh revealed in an interview that his underlying goal was to produce lesser quality apps in exchange for greater monetization.

Now what does that mean, exactly?  Well for starters, it means that Shaikh would charge relatively high prices for apps with extremely limited and sometimes broken functionality, such as $4.99 for an app that simply played airplane sounds, and $4.99 for an app called “iPig” that simply played a variety of pig sounds.  Knowing that his apps weren’t likely to be big hits, Shaikh and his team decided to play the odds and release a crap load of apps in the hopes that people would mistakenly purchase them thinking that they were quality.  And with over 900 apps to his teams credit, the odds were certainly in their favor.

With Apple seemingly doing all it can to stifle honest developers who deliver quality apps, it’s a wonder that Apple has let developers like Shaikh continue on unabated for months.  In all honestly, shouldn’t some sort of red flag have been raised when app reviewers noticed that one developer was releasing hundreds of iPhone apps every few months?

The iTunes App Store is only going to get bigger, and if Apple wants to maintain customer interest it will need to find a way to make the shopping experience a pleasant one for consumers.  If I’m a Denver Broncos fan, and I pay $5 for a Broncos app from Shaikh and his team, but soon find out that it’s buggy and perhaps non-functional, then I’m going to be a lot less inclined to make app purchases in the future.  That said, it might be an idea for Apple to develop some sort of “sale bin” area on iTunes that would exclusively house content from developers who routinely receive horrible user reviews and never cease releasing buggy software.

The iTunes App Store is great because it puts all developers on equal footing.  At the same time, not every developer should have carte blanch to what effectively amounts to spamming iTunes in order to make a quick buck at the expense of iPhone users.

Thankfully, Apple finally banned dumbass Khalid Shaikh from the app store and revoked his developers license.

In case you’re interested, Apple’s email to the developer, and his auto-generated response can be found below.

Apple’s e-mail to Khalid:

Date: Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 4:45 PM
Subject: Notice of Termination
Please include the line below in follow-up emails for this request.
Follow-up: 79376777
July 24, 2009
Khalid Shaikh

Dear Mr. Shaikh:

This letter serves as notice of termination of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement (the “iDP Agreement”) and the Registered iPhone Developer Agreement (the “Registered Developer Agreement”) between you and Apple, effective immediately.

Pursuant to Section 3.2(d) of the iDP Agreement, you agreed that “to the best of Your knowledge and belief, Your Application and Licensed Application Information do not and will not violate, misappropriate, or infringe any Apple or third party copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy and publicity, trade secrets, patents, or other proprietary or legal rights (e.g. musical composition or performance rights, video rights, photography or image rights, logo rights, third party data rights, etc. for content and materials that may be included in Your Application).”

Apple has informed you of numerous third party intellectual property complaints concerning over 100 of your Applications and reminded you of your obligations to obtain the necessary rights prior to submission of your Applications. Nevertheless, we continue to receive the same or similar types of complaints regarding your Applications despite our repeated notices to you. The persistent nature of such complaints has led us to conclude that you are entering into the representations and warranties in the iDP Agreement in bad faith by misrepresenting that you have all the necessary rights for your submissions.

As required by Section 12.3 of the iDP Agreement and Section 8 of the Registered Developer Agreement, please erase and destroy all copies, full or partial, of the Apple Software and any information pertaining to the services and all copies of Apple Confidential Information in your and your Authorized Developers’ possession or control. After you have completed those steps, please provide certification of that destruction to Apple, as provided in Section 12.3 and Section 8. Finally, please note your additional obligations on termination as set forth in those same sections. This letter is not intended as a complete statement of fact with respect to the subject matter hereof, and nothing in this letter should be construed as a waiver of any rights or remedies Apple may have in connection with this matter, all of which are expressly reserved.


Worldwide Developer Relations (WWDR)
Apple Inc.

Auto-generated e-mail from Khalid’s company:

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for applying to Perfect Acumen Inc.

We develop iPhone applications exclusively using Objective-C and the
Mac. We have a strict work schedule of 12 hours a day 6 days a week.

Please read the first two chapters of ObjC.pdf before you can process
to the next stage of this interview process.

You should review a PDF we will send before interviewing on-site.

Please review “ObjC.pdf” & “iPhone in Action.pdf”

Our offices are in New Delhi, India.

Please confirm once you have read the 2 chapters that you are ready
for the interview.


, , , ,

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Peter Says:

    Hm…So about 1.5% of the apps in the app store came from this guy.

    As always, I get annoyed with the “65,000 apps” label. If you look at the software this guy developed, it was mostly the same app with different data. He had an app for viewing the daily “Baby Blues” comic strip. He had an app for viewing the daily “Zits” comic strip. Same app, different data.

    You see this–a bit more legitimately–in books. There are more than 2,500 books available via the app store. These are each different apps–buy the app and you can read the book. Want to read a different book? Buy the other book app. Because it’s only recently that Apple gave developers the ability to buy content for an app, this is how it had to be done. But 2,500? Yikes.

  2. robinson Says:

    Fun, if disturbing story. Did someone at Apple give his response? Or, did you just paste a canned response you received from some other inquiry?

    As to proliferation of book apps, I agree with the previous poster that it’s a nuisance. For one thing, it one were to download a bunch of books it would fill up screens of apps. Plus, they’re just as bad trying to rip off consumers by having them buy repeatedly the same app… and in many cases, the books are public domain and readily available with one of the free ebook apps!

    I do have a nit to pick, however. Those 1 book-an-app developers did NOT have to go that route. They could have done what Stanza, eReader, and other ebook apps did, which is to provide access to online catalogs of books, both public domain and commercial. One app, many books, little room (only 1 icon) taken on the i-device app screens. Instead, they were greedy, greedy and should be shunned!

eXTReMe Tracker