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The strange, shady world of $1,000 iOS apps

The strange shady world of 1 000 iOS apps TUAW The Unofficial Apple Weblog


It all begins with an otherwise unremarkable app suddenly skyrocketing in price, oftentimes all the way to the App Store's limit of $999.99. The developer, or whoever is orchestrating the scam, wires a massive amount of money -- Grachov used $10,000 as an example -- to a second party. That individual then purchases 10 copies of the app, exhausting the available funds and indirectly paying $7,000 of the original deposit back to the developer. Apple takes their 30% as usual.

The App Store sees $10,000 worth of money changing hands over the app and, as Grachov says, "like magic" the app appears on the Top Paid apps list. (Note: It's more likely that this trick would land you on the Top Grossing list, rather than Top Paid.) How close do you get to the no. 1 spot, for what is essentially a $3,000 App Store bribe? Anywhere from no. 18 to no. 13, according to Grachov.

Once the app has reached its highest point, the developer drops the price back to the one- to two-dollar range, and it gets at least a few hours of top-app sales before disappearing back into the ether. Whether the $3,000 investment is worth the eventual payoff depends on its performance during this relatively small window.

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Amazing scam. Apple should not allow a price drop from $999 to 99 cents. 

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