[telecom] How App Store grifters clone an overnight success to make a quick buck

How App Store grifters clone an overnight success to make a quick buck

The iOS app A Beautiful Mess suffered a true attack of the clones.

by Casey Johnston Aug 29 2013 Ars Technica

The app had only been out three months, and already the creators of A Beautiful Mess were scrambling to deal with a big problem: clones, copycats, and rip-offs, as many as seven of them, crowding the search results in the App Store. The clones appeared to be legitimate, affiliated versions, yet as all the developers knew, they were anything but. The CEO of the company that created the original A Beautiful Mess called them "infuriating."

Attack of the clones

The legitimate version of the app is a product of the lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess; it allows users to augment photos or background patterns with text, doodles, and filters. The app was launched by Red Velvet Art LLC, which was affiliated with the blog, and it was developed by Rocket Mobile, a brand agency based in Austin, Texas. The app launched on May 14 and debuted as the number three paid app in the App Store. Shortly thereafter, it moved to the number one spot.

A Beautiful Mess lets you do things like this to photos of your cats, as well as photos of other things. In June, the first clone appeared. It used the same icon and screenshots as A Beautiful Mess but came with a modified name: A Beautiful Mess Free. The second clone was produced by a developer named John Harlampa: A Beautiful Mess Plus. By the beginning of August, seven clones cluttered up the App Store, and one rip-off was charting in the top 50, according to AppTweak. It hovered in that range until the day it was pulled, sometime on August 19.

The original app, which had sustained a fairly high position on the paid charts, dropped as low as the fifties.


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