One of the major problems with the Apple App Store is that it loads the dice against high quality free software. Take the example of two competing applications on the App Store, one free and one paid for. The developer of the paid app can download, at no cost, the free app and then bad mouth it to the world. The developer of the free app cannot respond (because there is no global mechanism for response in the App Store), at least not without paying good money to the developer who slandered him in the first place.
As I have already blogged, MailRaider has been very well received in the UK App Store. I am delighted to say that it is also very well regarded in Germany and Canada too. As a download from my website (and rated on MacUpdate) it is similarly well regarded. I was therefore horrified to discover the number of negative reviews of MailRaider in the US Store*. I’ve spent a great deal of time honing a useful piece of software and so it is rather hurtful to discover it dismissed as:
‘Hristo Spasoff’ writes: Free app for (free) wasted time. Not Working! I can’t open 80% of MSG files with this app. But it’s free so I give you 1/5 stars for 20% successfully opened MSG
‘Mac Freack’ writes: No way to open .msg files, absolutely useless.
‘Suga Shane’ writes: If it won’t open a .msg file, what good is it?
I have a theory about this negativity. Perhaps this is a dirty tricks campaign against my product? This theory is circumstantially supported by the fact that there is a chap called Hristo Spasoff who also has an app on the App Store. I wonder, could they be the same person? His app is called Klammer – and it performs the same function as MailRaider.
I’m sure that Klammer is excellent software – and, even if I was prepared to pay money to Hristo, I wouldn’t bad mouth it. Perhaps I should be flattered, if the bad-mouthing Hristo is the same person then he clearly considers MailRaider to be a threat – which is odd because Klammer apparently has more functionality than MailRaider does (MailRaider can’t open TNEF files for example).
I’m not flattered though. I’m furious. If they are one and the same, then I’m furious that a fellow developer should sink so low, carelessly putting my own reputation at risk in order to promote his own application. It also further calls into question the validity of Mac Freack and Suga Shane’s testimony – pals of Spasoff, do you reckon?
I did email Hristo Spasoff of Klammer in order to give him the opportunity to respond to his criticism of my app or to deny having written it – I have no solid evidence, after all, that he did write the bad review of MailRaider on the US App Store. It’s equally possible that someone is trying to make him look bad:
From: Support <email@example.com>
Subject: Your problems with Mailraider
I was appalled to read (on the Apple Mac App Store) that you have been having troubles with MailRaider. I always like to make sure that my users are delighted with the software that I write, to the extent that MailRaider is capable in most situations where MSG files need to be opened (it doesn’t work with TNEF however – which may explain the trouble that you are experiencing). If you do need to open TNEF files then I recommend that you try Klammer.
I would love to be able to improve MailRaider so that it meets all your needs. Perhaps you could help me out by providing me with examples of the MSG files that you say it cannot open?
Pascal Harris (45RPM Software)
Needless to say, he hasn’t responded to my email. If he’d like to respond to my blog then I would be delighted to publish his reply.
Apple needs to implement a reply mechanism in the App Store, and one that works internationally. If someone bad mouths an app in America then the developer should be able to defend it from the calumny wherever they are in the world. Better, they should also be able to mark their comment for deletion and, provided that their reasons are accepted by the moderator, have it removed promptly – with a black mark placed against the name of the perpetrator.
And the upshot of all this? Well, I’ve learned my lesson. MailRaider will not be free for much longer – so enjoy it while you can. If I’m going to have my work slandered then the slanderer can damn well pay for the privilege of doing it.
* I am delighted to report that, since I originally blogged about this issue, MailRaider’s standing in the US App store has improved dramatically.