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Google Needs Better Play Store Management as Fake BBM Apps Confuse Customers

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Ahead of when the BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, app is slated to debut for Android customers tomorrow, September 21, Google’s Play Store already lists at least a handful of BBM apps. While there are always third-party knock-offs or similarly named apps listed in the Play Store many times, the situation with the BBM app highlights that the Play Store needs a better vetting, screening, and approval process for apps.

These fake BBM apps made by a single third-party developer shows up under multiple listings, often with different icons on the Play Store, both through Google’s browser web interface as well as on the Play Store accessed on an Android smartphone or tablet.

fakebbm

The deceptive part about these apps is that the developer publicly listed appears as “BlackBerry,” suggesting that these knock-offs originate from BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, whereas in fact the official BlackBerry BBM app isn’t slated to debut until tomorrow for Android customers and on September 22 for iPhone owners.

Furthermore, these fake apps are getting fake ratings, often with 4.5 stars or higher, suggesting that they may in fact be the real deal and offer a great experience.

While I haven’t downloaded the apps myself, some of the more honest negative reviews suggest that these apps do nothing and are ad-laden, which enriches the fraudulent developer’s wallets. I have no issues with ads in apps to support legitimate developing, but the misleading approach of this one developer should not be supported and Google really needs to manage the Play Store experience better for its customers. It’s unclear if these apps contain any malware inside them.

And even more evidence comes up when you peruse the details of the app and go to the support section on the Play Store. There is an option to email the developer, and doing so would take you to the email address of “[email protected]” An official app likely would tip you to a dot BlackBerry dot com email address, and not a generic gmail address as is seen here. The [email protected] email address is listed for many of these fake apps on the Play Store.

Google is more relaxed with its app approval process than Apple and the firm’s operation of its Play Store has resulted in malware, fake apps, and knock-off experiences in the past. Apple, which is criticized with being too controlling of its approval process, does not often suffer from similar problems.

Again, Android customers should wait until September 21 to download the BlackBerry Messenger service, which is similar to Apple’s iMessage, and iOS customers can tap into the app beginning September 22 according to a press release issued by BlackBerry.

BBM will be available as a free download for Android smartphones running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean (Android 4.x) beginning at 7AM EDT on September 21. BBM for iPhones running iOS 6 and iOS 7 will become available for each market on the App Store schedule of 12:01 AM local time on September 22. For more information, or to download BBM for Android or iPhone, visit www.BBM.com.

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

9 Comments

  1. dalp

    09/20/2013 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks for the confirmation of my suspiciouns. Just had a look at Play for the bbm app, saw these and thought something was wrong. Think I will wait until blackberry publish a link to the official Play download on their website as I hope they will do –
    http://us.blackberry.com/bbm.html?lid=us:bb:bbm&lpos=us:bb:bbm

    And you’re quite right, Google need to impose better control on the apps published on Play. The current slackness is unfair, unreasonable and unacceptable.

    • Azzz

      09/21/2013 at 5:16 am

      agree with you bud, I’ll be waiting for an official link same as you to this BBM thing…

      this shows all about google policy for the apps showing in their store, is it that easy for anyone to create an app and upload it easily to the store without restrictions??? spammers and fake apps are mostly taking over by that… google has to work out their policy against such practices…

      for me tried and installed one of them and it keeps forcing me to install some games/apps and rate them… that’s soo annoying what i faced really… urrrrrgh

  2. Paul

    09/21/2013 at 4:55 am

    its after 7:00 and i’m not seeing anything related to BBM on the play store ( the real version )

    • Paul

      09/21/2013 at 4:58 am

      i think my time zone calculation was propably messed up…oops

  3. igwe

    09/21/2013 at 5:20 am

    Its an hour passed now and i still cant find the app

  4. Whyat

    09/21/2013 at 10:23 am

    Bbm should have come out in North America first. Another poor decision by blackberry, another reason why they are going broke.

  5. Shibu

    09/21/2013 at 10:41 am

    If you are using Samsung, then use Samsung Apps to get your apps. These fake ones are not shown in there but the same is in plenty in Google play.

    And always Blackberry is behind schedule. But better be late than have a half cooked software

  6. Koedoe

    09/22/2013 at 12:43 pm

    I think by now we all know what mayhem was caused by a leaked android app. I just returned from new zeeland and was lucky to caught the iphone app before i left. Its very good so be patient and wait for the official app. Its worth it.

  7. Wordpress Help Support Guy

    09/25/2013 at 7:02 pm

    it’s not google’s job to police the web, if BlackBerry is being attacked by copyright infringment, fraud, or other impersonations, it’s their responsibility to defend their name and reputation by suing the developer.

    also keep in mind google will most likely never be manually involved in approving apps since that would take some kind of staff which they are famous for avoiding in every product they provide except adwords.

    so, unless google developers begin earning google BILLIONS every year i doubt they will spend the money to staff an approval process.

    at the very least I am happy that we as Americans are able to release an app without being approved first, that promotes capitalism and open marketplace ideas which are essential building blocks of a free society.

    basically I am getting at is this:

    don’t claim the fruits of freedom and then bitch about the responsibilities!

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