iphone app reveiws scam: Apple pulls 1000+ apps

I’ve reported on how some companies have been able to scam the iphone apps store reveiws before now. It came to light earlier this year that one company had been using interns and various associate to post favourable reviews of their apps.
Another scam was spotted by reader of iphonegraphy blog, concerning app development company, Molinker. Basically, many of their 5 star reviews came from users who had only reviewed their products.
A report was sent to Apple, and yesterday all Molinker apps – over 1000 of them – were pulled from the store.

Top Ten Yahoo Mobile Searches

Yahoo have just published a great review of the 2009. It will be online until Dec 30th and makes for some interesting reading.

One bit of information to come out of this are the list of top ten mobile searches. In 2009 they were as follows:

1. London
2. Premier League
3. Big Brother
4. Champions League
5. Katie Price
6. Lottery
7. Weather
8. Mail
9. Cricket
10. Michael Jackson

Although web search is dominated by Google, it is worth noting that in mobile search, Yahoo is a significant player. The top searches make some interesting points about the way that users engage with the mobile web. Typically it is to access small, specific pieces of information: location related information, football (and other sports) scores, the weather and lottery numbers. The Yahoo results bear this out. Yet looking at all searches (both fixed internet and mobile), the results are somewhat different:

1. Big Brother
2. X Factor
3. Job centre
4. Michael Jackson
5. Jade Goody
6. Premier League
7. Swine Flu
8. Katie Price
9. Cheryl Cole
10. Train Times

Looking at all web searches, the focus is much more on entertainment (6 out of the top 10), whereas mobile searches are more information based (7 out of the top 10). It tells us that the mobile web is different. Brands should recognise this, and tailor their mobile web offerings accordingly.

Square: it’s mobile payments, but not quite as we thought

It came to light this week that Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey, is working on a new project for mobile payments called ‘Square‘. The project has been around for a few months, but the press finally put together the various pieces and worked out what they were up to!

Square is a great concept: install some software on your smartphone, then plugin a small plastic square. You swipe a user’s credit card and take a payment.

As with all great ideas, the concept is extremely simple. It is aimed at small businesses who don’t aren’t able to invest in PDQ systems. The revenue model comes from taking a small fee per transaction. It’s great to see a mobile application that will help small businesses – afterall many of the online brands that we know and love (or hate) started as small businesses.

Most people think of mobile payments in terms of taking the money from the phone bill, however Square takes a more left-field approach to it. There is no question that people are reluctant to enter credit card details on a mobile site. Even though the connection is almost the same as PC web, the trust element with mobile is missing. So if Square takes off (and I hope it will), as well as providing a useful and much needed service for SMEs, it may also change perceptions about payments through the phone.

With the introduction of NFC (Near Field Communication) systems on mobile, in app payments and now Square, the next year will see mobile commerce becoming massive.

iphone vs Android: will porn be the killer app?

Apple has taken the high moral ground when it comes to certain areas of specialist entertainment. Yup, we’re talking about porn. The iphone appstore has been very prudish when it comes to adult related content. They even banned a dictionary app which included the words ‘fuck’ and ‘piss’ – it was later accepted as R15 after the f word was removed. Whilst I wouldn’t expect Apple to endorse adult entertainment (and they clearly do not), the exclusivity of the appstore means that it is not possible (without jailbreaking an iphone) to have any adult apps. The interest in porn clearly exists with iphone users. One of the most read articles on this blog was about a midly titilating app called iblush babes. Furthermore, a recent report showed that one in five people have viewed porn on their iphone, presumably via the mobile web.

The companies that are supporting Android, haven’t endorsed porn either – far from it. There is a big difference, however. They don’t control the delivery of apps in the same way as Apple’s iphone. One company called has done the indecent thing, taking advantage of Android’s more open approach to set up an app store for adult entertainment called MiKandi.

When it comes to technology, history would suggest that porn is the killer app. VHS took off (and ultimately won out over Betamax) with it’s adoption by the porn industry. Similarly broadband took off because it provided easy access to adult websites. So, is it possible that easier access to porn through the Android will see Google’s mobile OS win out in the end?

Twitter using SMS to help brands to connect to users

A news report this week explained how a trial, run by a third party, on Twitter has allowed brands to connect with users through SMS.
Having read the article I can honestly say that I don’t really understand what the service is or how it works! The principle seems to be that it uses mobile marketing to get users to connect to their Twitter feed. But, if the service is unclear, who will use it?

In a month long trial the company claims that brands had an increase of between 66% and over 3,000% in user uptake. Of course, they didn’t say what the starting point was for each brand.

Apparently a major brand has now signed up for the full advertising service.

But I’m still confused! What’s the revenue model – ie who is paying for it and who is making the money? The companies involved haven’t said. I presume it’s the brands that pay for the advertising, but I am not convinced of the benefit. OK, more people sign up to your feed. Fair enough. But that in itself does not bring business. It comes back to my long-standing issue with social media, and Twitter in particular. I do not believe they are advertising media. Twitter itself has no commercial model (yet), and advertising is not welcomed by its users. Social media sites are good places for users to engage with brands, give feedback and for other CRM activities, but I don’t see it as a sales channel. I would love someone to show me where brands have achieved measurable sales from social media.

Personally I don’t see how this new Twitter service will take off.