This was a big week for BlackBerry Limited, as the company released its BlackBerry Messenger service for Android phones and the iPhone on Monday. The company claimed that over 10 million downloads were served up in the first 24 hours, and traffic was so heavy that users had to literally wait in line to use the service once the app was installed.
But now there's a bit of controversy surrounding the new chat client. Jump on Google Play and load up the BlackBerry Messenger listing, and you'll find a number of five-star reviews that say the exact same message. "Thank you so much BlackBerry team," these reviews read. "I was waiting for this app. It's really great, user friendly and smooth."
Those are not the only duplicate five-star reviews. "Nice and fun back Great!!!" reads another set of duplicate five-star reviews. "Can connect and use smoothly like my bb unit!!! Keep it up!"
So what's going on? Is BlackBerry Limited inflating the app's review score with fake reviews? Or are Android customers merely being lazy and cutting/pasting reviews already loaded up on the product page? Tech blogger Terence Eden, who originally investigated the issue, states that when he publishes and app on Google Play, he's typically bombarded by companies that offer a paid service to inject five-star reviews.
"Whenever I launch an app on Android, I'm immediately inundated with emails from companies promising me thousands of 5* reviews for only a few hundred dollars. I've never taken up their offer - it's unethical, probably illegal, and usually very obvious when a company has purchased their reviews," he writes.
Naturally, BlackBerry Limited denies involvement. "We have been made aware of a number of potentially fake reviews of BBM for Android on Google Play, with ratings anywhere from one to five stars," a company spokesperson told TheNextWeb. "We have no knowledge of how these reviews were created or populated. We do not approve of or condone such activities. There are also many genuinely great and useful reviews from our new BBM users on Google Play. We would like to encourage our fans and users to continue to provide true assessments of the BBM experience through the proper channels."
But there are "hundreds" of nearly identical reviews. One even shows the "thank you so much review", but also includes a message supposedly from the BlackBerry Messenger team telling the fake reviewer to post the message on Google Play. Whoops.
Eden speculates that one of the fake BlackBerry Messenger apps has tried to generate good reviews for itself, and somehow posted the reviews on the official app's page instead. The thing is, whether BlackBerry Limited paid a marketing firm to inject fake reviews or not, the client doesn't need fake five-star reviews: there are plenty of legitimate five-star opinions as well as the negative ones. Thus his theory about the fake app could be possible.
Still, what makes this whole ordeal suspicious is that the company needed this service to launch with positive reviews, and as we've seen in the past, injecting fake five-star reviews isn't uncommon for many app developers, unfortunately.