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iOS app discovery tool AppGratis pulled for violating Apple's App Store rules

post #1 of 25
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Apple's App Store rules have resulted in the removal of iOS download discovery service AppGratis, which may have violated a newly instituted restriction on promotion.

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image via Numerama


AppGratis billed itself as "a friend that talks apps." Its team worked with 6,000 app developers from around the world to highlight notable software for AppGratis users. Now TechCrunch reports that the download has disappeared from the App Store, with no comment either from Apple or AppGratis.

Current speculation holds that AppGratis' promotion model may have been found to be in violation of a recently-added App Store rule forbidding "apps that display apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store." It is unknown whether or not this is exactly the case, though a number of other similar software options have been removed since Apple made that addition to its App Store rules.

According to the company blog, AppGratis served more than 10 million users before its removal. It also drove more than one million app installs per day for its app partners. In January, the company announced that it had raised $13.4 million in Series A funding from Iris Capital and the Orange Publicis fund.

Update: On Monday, Apple confirmed to AllThingsD that AppGratis had been removed for violating not only clause 2.25 of the App Store Review Guideline ? the clause stipulating that apps cannot promote other apps similarly to the App Store ? but also clause 5.6. Clause 5.6 states that "apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.

AllThingsD cites sources close to Apple as saying that Apple was "more than a little troubled that AppGratis was pushing a business model that appeared to favor developers with the financial means to pay for exposure. 'The App Store is intended as a meritocracy.'"
post #2 of 25
Apple's new rule seems perfectly reasonable to me.
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #3 of 25
I'm betting if the App provided results for all equally there'd be no problem. But since it appears to promote Apps from their "partners" then this makes sense.
post #4 of 25
Kind of like a google search that gives top billing to their 'partners' - companies that pay google to get to the top of the list.
post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Apple's new rule seems perfectly reasonable to me.

They don't make any sense to me. I've been using AppGratis for a while, and it's been a great app for discovering other apps at bargain prices (or free under promotion). 

 

It's not like it takes you to some other app store to get the apps. You agree to be taken to the App Store, which transfers right into the App Store APP to download. If developers are getting their panties in a bunch over it, maybe they should've taken the time to participate in the program with AppGratis. If they don't want to, they don't have to. 

post #6 of 25
Does this rule mean that all "free app of the day" type apps are running afoul of Apple?

I use "Appoday" pretty much daily. It's a valuable service that saves me a lot of money. An app I was already thinking about buying that is normally $30 was the free app of the day recently, I'd hate to miss out on deals like that just because Apple doesn't like it.
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

I'm betting if the App provided results for all equally there'd be no problem. But since it appears to promote Apps from their "partners" then this makes sense.

Apple hasn't been keen on paid placement in apps or even traded placement for a while. Add in apps that might be copying the store UI which is also against the rules, possibly using private API in the process.

It's not hard to see how an app like this could be pulled for further review

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

I'm betting if the App provided results for all equally there'd be no problem. But since it appears to promote Apps from their "partners" then this makes sense.

Yep. That kind of selective promotion might irk the system. Especially if its not upfront. If you are claiming to reveal free or in sale apps implying you search the whole store but you knowingly don't, that's false advertising.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #9 of 25

I see nothing wrong with Apple' recent rule change. I much prefer to keep one app-store and it's store front rather than a bunch of other people creating competing store-fronts for the app-store. I see this as normal Apple behaviour to protect and control the user experience ensuring consistency. I'm sure Apple could do more to enhance the app-store though to foster better app discovery.

post #10 of 25

I bet their investors will not be happy if their business model is not allow with Apple.

post #11 of 25
Oh they did not work with more than 6,000 developers from around the world, that would be infeasible. Unless it's a very lose definition of "working with."

Interestingly Steam is taking the exact opposite approach: Apple is saying "No store within a store," and Steam (well Gaben at least) is talking about letting anyone make their own Steam store page and let other users buy from it.
post #12 of 25
AppGratis got "Chomped ".
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post

They don't make any sense to me. I've been using AppGratis for a while, and it's been a great app for discovering other apps at bargain prices (or free under promotion). 

 

It's not like it takes you to some other app store to get the apps. You agree to be taken to the App Store, which transfers right into the App Store APP to download. If developers are getting their panties in a bunch over it, maybe they should've taken the time to participate in the program with AppGratis. If they don't want to, they don't have to. 

 

I disagree.  The app store is already filled with more than enough titles that aren't so much apps as they are promotional material masquerading as an app.  

 

A promotional website that's pretending to be an app (like this one) is better off simply being a website.  If we give a leg up to every website and advertising agency that wants to pretend to be an app so that it can get a higher profile than "merely" being a website, then the web itself will become irrelevant for one thing and the app store will just be more junked up than it already is.  

 

All they need to do is put a giant button on the main page of the website that says "Add to Home Screen" and they're done.  The app store stays just a little bit cleaner and clearer, people can still use their services same as always, and AppGratis gets all the traffic they deserve.  

post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

I'm betting if the App provided results for all equally there'd be no problem. But since it appears to promote Apps from their "partners" then this makes sense.

 

I would bet that you can't actually back up that belief that Apple promotes apps from "partners" with any real evidence or facts.  1smile.gif

 

Who are these "partners" anyway?  

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I would bet that you can't actually back up that belief that Apple promotes apps from "partners" with any real evidence or facts.  1smile.gif

Who are these "partners" anyway?  
I don't believe I said Apple promotes Apps. But AppGratis worked with "6,000 developers". Which makes me think that those 6,000 devs are the ones getting "promoted".
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

I bet their investors will not be happy if their business model is not allow with Apple.


Yes their value just dropped significantly.

 

I hate to say this, but hopefully Apple won't be facing a lawsuit from them.

Since they violated Apple's sensible rules,

  they shouldn't stand a chance, but greedy lawyers can waste Apple's money in defense.

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Clause 5.6 states that "apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.

 

I wasn't aware of this rule, but I'm glad it's there.  I'd hate to be bombarded by push notification ads.  It would probably condition me into ignoring notifications, which defeats their purpose.

 

Another sign that Apple is looking out for its customers.  I wonder, do Android users get push notification ads?

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by am8449 View Post

I wonder, do Android users get push notification ads?

 

I have hundreds of apps and I've never seen a push ad, but apparently there are some apps out there that use the Airpush ad network, which is known to abuse the notification area in this way. To stop it, a user can go to the Airpush website and opt out.

 

If it's some other ad network, then they can download a tool like Addons Detector to figure out which app is the culprit and remove just that app.

post #19 of 25
I don't know what to think...

1- Is it monopoly?
2- Is it good, or bad, for end users?
3- Is it fair that a business model that was OK suddenly becomes reason to remove an app that worked just fine and you invested lots, and Apple **_validated_**? What's the point of that vaunted "curation" then? Sounds like something Microsoft would do?
4- I used the App Store to look for my own apps. It took me three days before it even would show up in search (even though direct link worked fine) and worse, even then it does not appear as the first result for its own nale, but as result 31th... Is Apple removing apps for being better at doing a search feature than they are, or what?

Then again, maybe Apple's move is perfectly legitimate, I bloody don't know :/

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

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post #20 of 25
Wait, wouldn't the "iTunes" app violate this rule. It's an app that promotes other apps...
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

I don't know what to think...

1- Is it monopoly?
2- Is it good, or bad, for end users?
3- Is it fair that a business model that was OK suddenly becomes reason to remove an app that worked just fine and you invested lots, and Apple **_validated_**? What's the point of that vaunted "curation" then? Sounds like something Microsoft would do?
4- I used the App Store to look for my own apps. It took me three days before it even would show up in search (even though direct link worked fine) and worse, even then it does not appear as the first result for its own nale, but as result 31th... Is Apple removing apps for being better at doing a search feature than they are, or what?

Then again, maybe Apple's move is perfectly legitimate, I bloody don't know :/

Likely in whatever developer agreement was signed, you agreed that Apple had the exclusive right to remove or reevaluate your app at any time for any reason.

Just like Best Buy likely reserves the right to remove an item from its product shelves.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Clause 5.6 states that "apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.

Then how does Groupon get away with it?
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

Wait, wouldn't the "iTunes" app violate this rule. It's an app that promotes other apps...

Apple doesn't have to follow the same rules as everyone else.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #24 of 25

The truth is that the App Store is Apple's ecosystem to police as it chooses.  There are too many folks out there who mistake the App Store for the open web, where you are free to experiment with anything.  Nobody should be angry at Apple for managing its ecosystem.  If you want to develop marketing channels or promotional vehicles - be smart and do them outside of Apple's gated kingdom.  Apple's issue at the end of the day isn't "promotion and advertising of apps" because in reality nobody can stop this.  It is a natural component of any marketplace.  Their goal is to keep it outside of the walls of the App Store where they manage the user experience.

post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by am8449 View Post

 

I wasn't aware of this rule, but I'm glad it's there.  I'd hate to be bombarded by push notification ads.  It would probably condition me into ignoring notifications, which defeats their purpose.

 

Another sign that Apple is looking out for its customers.  I wonder, do Android users get push notification ads?

I receive one push notification per day, and it's completely optional. I wouldn't even really say it's a push notification "ad." It's more like a reminder to check the daily deals. Considering the discounts are only good for one day, it's nice to be reminded to check AppGratis daily. 

 

If I don't get notified today, then I'll know the developers are forced to opt out of the promotional deals with AppGratis. I will miss it if I can't use it any more. It really has lead me to some great apps for cheap (or free). 

 

As of today, it's still showing the new daily deals. Hopefully they keep coming, even though the app was pulled. 

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