Bad Apples in the Apple Newsstand

SAMSUNG CSCIt’s no secret the Apple newsstand is a mess. The lack of maintenance on the part of Apple has been causing headaches for publishers and their readers, to be sure. And now it looks like fraud is becoming an even bigger issue, according to D.B. Hebbard at Talking New Media.

As Hebbard points out, having your magazine app discovered in the Apple App store is tough enough.

“First, like all the categories in the Newsstand, Apple has stopped curating [the Cooking, Food & Drink category],” Hebbard notes.

“Second, the ‘New’ promotional area remains broken, not with the latest new releases, or new releases chosen by Apple’s App Store team, but rather simply all the apps in alphabetical order,” Hebbard continues. “As I have written before, scam artists have pounced, creating apps that start out with ‘A’ or double ‘A’ to be the first seen.”

What’s the scam they are running? According to Hebbard, these developers are posting look-alike digital editions that only produce one issue, yet are selling subscriptions. The unwitting reader gets duped into not only buying a lousy publication, but paying for future copies that will never exist. Aside from the outright scam, these knockoffs clutter up the newsstand and make it harder to find the legitimate publications.

“These apps make it even harder to find legitimate publications and are actually encouraged by digital publishing platforms that have encouraged this time of mass production of digital magazine apps,” says Hebbard. “One vendor told me recently that they have 1,500 such apps now in the Newsstand, or almost 15 percent of all the titles to the found. No doubt their revenue share model encourages multiple launches, and with Apple looking the other way, it is easy to slam the store with titles.”

Hebbard has a couple of good suggestions to help Apple combat the issue, but the bottom line is Apple must work harder to keep its house in order. As Hebbard notes, with 50,000+ employees, surely they could spare a couple to dedicate to the newsstand and make sure that what they are selling is legit. Their credibility is on the line.