Creator of former top paid iOS app sues Apple for exploiting small developers
The FlickType app is available in the App Store and its claim to fame is that it can be used on your Apple Watch to give you a functioning QWERTY keyboard for the timepiece. The developer of the app, Kosta Eleftheriou, took to Twitter earlier this year and called out Apple for turning the other way instead of keeping copycat apps and iOS scams out of its iOS app storefront. Eleftheriou and his partner Ashley co-own KPAW LLC and the company filed a suit against Apple in Superior Court in the state of California.
Developer of former number one paid iOS app sues Apple calling the App Store a monopoly
According to Scribd (via The Verge), Kosta complained that FlickType was the target of competing iOS apps that didn't work as well as FlickType; in some situations these rival apps didn't work at all. Despite this, FlickType saw its revenues and App Store ranking decline as the rival apps reportedly used fake ads and fake reviews to climb up Apple's rankings. While Apple did remove some of the bogus apps, Eleftheriou said that it didn't do enough to combat the scams. The developer now joins the growing number of politicians, tech firms, consumers, plaintiffs and regulators who call the App Store a monopoly designed to make consumers pay more than they should for apps.
[img center []:"FlickType was once the number one paid app in the App Store"/
In one glaring example, Eleftheriou said that he had been approached by Apple's head of mobile keyboard technology, Randy Marsden; the latter (who created the Swype keyboard) wanted to purchase FlickType to add a native QWERTY for the Apple Watch and improve typing on the device. When Eleftheriou turned down Apple, the latter refused to remove copycat and scam apps from the App Store. The court papers filed by FlickType's developer suggests a reason why Apple turned the other cheek when FlickType was under attack from other apps. As Eleftheriou said, "Evidently, Apple thought Plaintiff would simply give up and sell its application to Apple at a discount." Apple also removed the app from the App Store for a spell and rejected other versions of the app including a variant that takes notes. In turning down both versions of FlickType, Apple said that they turn the Apple Watch into a keyboard which the watch was not designed to be. However, over this time period, Apple allowed a competing app called "Shift Keyboard" to launch on the App Store. After months of appeals, Apple allowed FlickType back in the App Store. By then, Apple's actions cost FlickType over a year of revenue according to the documents filed in court by Eleftheriou.
After getting approved by Apple, FlickTyping became the number one paid app in the App Store generating $130,000 in revenue during its first month. Even after proving itself, Apple failed to rid the App Store of copycats and scammers that went after the bullseye painted on FlickType's back. These rivals used fake reviews to hike their ratings in Apple's system and as stated in the complaint, "Apple did next to nothing despite its stated policies forbidding this precise type of unfair competition."
Eleftheriou was involved in the creation of the Fleksy keyboard that set a world's record for the fastest touch-screen text message. The Fleksy development team was sold to Pinterest and the complaint notes that Kosta walked away from millions of dollars in compensation from Pinterest to develop the first ever keyboard for the Apple Watch. He was drawn to the Apple Store by comments from Apple such as "We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for customers to download the apps they love and a great business opportunity for developers everywhere." But the FlickType app did not get the "incredibly rapid adoption" and "the guidance and app review" that Apple promises.