App Store subscription apps that cost thousands per year scamming iOS users

Andy Boxall

In App Business. October 5, 2018

An iPhone owner has raised concerns over the spread of hugely expensive subscription apps in the App Store, some of which provide little or no functionality of value. The apps have been designed to lead users to start a pricey subscription plan, through which developers earn large amounts of revenue.

A QR code reader app is used as an example. Developed by TinyLab, it charges $156 per year and apparently does not work properly. The app is 235th on App Annie’s top grossing iOS app list.

A further list of apps which use subscriptions to make money reveals many which charge high rates for services many expect to be cheap, or free. A ringtone app costs $2600 per year, a translator app for Safari costs $4680 per year, and an app to secure images on the phone costs $3640 per year.

All are near the top of App Annie’s top grossing app list, and some are in the top 20. Many of the apps have thousands of high score ratings, along with thousands of one-star ratings, indicating fake reviews being used to manipulate popularity and visibility in the App Store.

Apple’s guidelines on subscriptions makes it clear how developers should approach subscriptions, emphasizing clarity for the user. The company has started to remove some of the suspect apps identified by the user.