Free Game Charts in Apple App Store: Bee Network is currently at the top
"Among Us", "Mario Kart Tour", "Pokémon Go": you usually come across such games in Apple's charts of the most popular free mobile games.
However, an unusual piece of software is right at the top of the hit list.
The Bee Network app, a “phone-based asset” according to the App Store, is an investment option on the smartphone.
"Completely free of charge, no battery or data discharge", promises the app description, Bee is a "new digital currency".
Every day it only takes one click and you can earn the so-called bees, it is said, through "auto-mining".
The processes for generating digital currency are commonly referred to as "mining".
In many positive user comments, Bee Network is sometimes compared with Bitcoin in the App Store, and there is also talk of a "gamer currency".
The picture is similar in Google's Play Store, where the app ranks in the top ten of the "top games" and in the sub-category of "educational games": Here, too, many reviewers seem surprisingly optimistic that Bee could be the next big thing.
There are many reasons for skepticism
But can this enthusiasm be trusted?
And should you really download Bee onto your smartphone?
There is some evidence that the answer to both questions is no.
It starts with the fact that the creators of the app like to work in secret:
Not a single name of a person responsible is mentioned on the app's website.
You don't even find out which company is behind the project.
Bee Network mentions an email address as a contact option, but so far no response has been received from SPIEGEL.
In general, Bee Network does not seem interested in exchanging information with users.
An official Telegram group has 47,000 members, but users are not allowed to write in it.
Bee Network also prefers to post success reports on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram rather than responding to user questions.
In a "whitepaper", which does not deserve this name due to a lack of technical details, it vaguely states that the initial development of the Bee Network is "mainly financed by anonymous sponsors".
In its privacy statement, Bee Network grants itself the right to share personal data "with third parties" without clarifying which companies are involved.
Whoever wants to use the Bee Network usually needs an invitation.
There are three ways to log in with it: You can log in via Facebook or your Apple ID, or you can use your phone number.
Later, as the Bee Network outlines on its website, additional data could be requested as part of identity checks.
When you arrive in the app, you land on an overview page called “Balance”.
It says how many bees, i.e. units of currency, one supposedly owns now.
There is also a green button with a bee that you should press every 24 hours so that more bees fly towards you.
Start screen of the iOS app: we're talking about a "merit"
Photo: Bee Network
Users should attract more users
That's it, almost.
The whole thing has more to do with network marketing than a game.
Bee Network wants the app users to attract more users.
The inviting person is given the prospect of more income from automatic prospecting; those who are invited receive a bee for their registration.
Bee Network would prefer to access the iPhone address book for inviting purposes, but it is better not to allow the app to do this.
Under Android, the Google authorization overview app is also interested in the user's contacts, as well as in their location and memory.
The approach that users who recruit others get more bees themselves explains the many positive reviews in the App Store and Play Store, as well as numerous mentions of the app in social networks.
Users ramble about how great the Bee Network is, but always mention their invitation code at the end of their posts.
The Bee Network's "whitepaper" explicitly states: "The key to earning more bees is therefore in prospecting and recruiting new members."
There is little to suggest that Bees will have any value outside of the app itself in the foreseeable future.
On its website, Bee Network claims that users are rewarded for “actively participating in the game”, “and that brings you an income in real life”.
However, the self-proclaimed digital currency is not listed on any cryptocurrency exchange.
And when Bee Network mentions companies like Rakuten and Coinbase on its website, that's pure name dropping.
A FAQ on the website says that according to current planning, Bee will be tradable on cryptocurrency exchanges in the third quarter of 2022.
But whether this step really comes about depends “on the increase in players and the community dynamics”.
So it is very possible that users of the app are simply wasting their time and giving data such as their telephone number into the hands of an unknown provider for no use.
That's what Apple says about the app
SPIEGEL asked Apple on Wednesday why the company was listing Bee Network as a game in the App Store.
The company then announced that in the event of possible violations of the store guidelines, it would first speak to the developers to identify and fix problems.
"In this case of the affected app, Apple is already in contact with the developers and it looks like no mining is taking place on the device." Mining on the iPhone, i.e. calculating digital currency using the device, would be a violation of Apple's guidelines on the subject of cryptocurrencies.
Bee Network has a lot of good reviews, but they shouldn't be trusted
In Apple's rules, however, it also says: "Cryptocurrency apps are not allowed to offer currency for the fulfillment of tasks, for example downloading other apps, encouraging other users to download them, posting on social networks, and so on." perhaps also as a game, so as not to violate the rule for cryptocurrency apps with your invitation codes?
Google has not yet responded to a SPIEGEL request on the subject.
Is it now "a hoax"?
Bee Network itself claims to already have seven million users on board.
According to an overview within the app, over a million of them are from the UK.
There are currently 228,000 registered users from Germany.
It is also noteworthy that the app in the FAQ on its website itself raises the question of whether the Bee Network is "a hoax" - an approach that reputable providers would hardly need.
The answer to that question emphasizes above all that Bee Network bought the domain Bee.com for a lot of money, does not accept direct payments from players and that it has won numerous users within a few weeks.
In addition, Bee Network states that the blockchain theory has been well documented and refers to the "whitepaper".
However, there is nothing in it that Bee Network is currently using blockchain technology at all.
Bee Network seems to be able to do one thing above all else: dazzle users who dream of a second Bitcoin and turn them into their marketing assistants.
You should keep your hands off such an app.
Icon: The mirror