During the ongoing Apple versus Epic Games lawsuit, an expert witness brought forward by the iPhone company claims that India’s largest mobile game app store isn’t what you’d think. Google Play, Samsung’s Galaxy Store or even Xiaomi’s own storefront isn’t the biggest. Rather it’s third-party store, 9Game.com — which is notorious for hosting malicious apps. In 2019 it was labelled as being the most dangerous app store on the Internet with 61,669 malicious apps uploaded in that year according to security firm RiskIQ.
Incidentally, noted US systems and networking security specialist Aviel D Rubin that Apple brought on as its expert witness cited the same report from RiskIQ stating that “9Game.com is still the largest mobile game market platform in India despite being considered by RiskIQ as ‘the most dangerous app store’ with 61,669 Android apps associated with potential security threats — the highest concentration of potentially insecure Android apps.”
Now while Apple brings this up as an example of why allowing users to have access to multiple app stores as a glaring concern, as it could lead to giving bad actors a platform to obtain user data and violate privacy, it’s interesting that the Cupertino company thinks this is India’s biggest storefront.
Reason being: over the years Google’s attempts at preventing sideloading of apps through a combination of a series of steps and shrewd warning labels makes most average users think twice before using an app store that isn’t Google Play.
Furthermore, if it was India’s biggest storefront, the slew of ‘real-money gaming’ aka gambling apps that have been lobbying for access to the Google Play store (all while trying to sell Indian citizens on the idea that they’re esports companies) would be content with being on a platform with a lower entry barrier.
“Being on Google Play is the goal for us,” says an executive at one such start-up to IGN India under the condition of anonymity. “We’d be spending 30 to 35 percent less on marketing and visibility if we were there. That’s where Indians are.”
Earlier in the month the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games revealed, ongoing issues about the quality of security of Apple’s own App Store. According to Financial Times, a senior engineer from Apple has made unflattering comparisons to illustrate the low security level of the App Store.
The engineer, Eric Friedman, is the head of Apple’s Fraud Engineering and Risk unit. Friedman compared the security measures faced by new apps arriving to Apple’s App Store as “more like the pretty lady who greets you . . . at the Hawaiian airport than the drug-sniffing dog”.
Epic argues that Apple has “no evidence” that it is successfully screening new apps for “security issues better than other methods of app distribution”. Apple, on the other hand, is using security as the primary reason for why it disallows third-party payment tools for in-app purchases in iOS apps.