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Removal of AppGratis signals start of Apple crackdown on App Store

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
The ouster of AppGratis from the App Store is reportedly the first in a coming crackdown on application discovery services in Apple's App Store that violate the company's rules.

Apple's plans to tighten up enforcement of App Store rules were revealed on Wednesday by AllThingsD, which characterized the removal of AppGratis as a "first step" in a "broader enforcement" effort. AppGratis was simply the first high-profile casualty in the company's apparently impending efforts to curb developers paying for exposure.

appgratis


"I'm told that Apple feels these apps threaten the legitimacy of the App Store charts by providing a way for developers to spend their way to a high ranking," author John Paczkowski wrote. He added: "The company also worries that such apps undermine the integrity of the App Store by cluttering it with alternative storefronts."

The CEO of AppGratis revealed on Tuesday that he is in "total disbelief" over the fact that Apple removed his service from the App Store. The banishment came because the discovery software violated two App Store regulations: one blocking apps that promote other apps in a manner similar to the App Store, and another forbidding apps using push notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.

AppGratis was pulled last weekend in response to the newly revised App Store rules, which did not align with the AppGratis promotion model. Apple reportedly took issue with the fact that the service appeared to favor developers who could pay for exposure of their applications.

Now it appears that AppGratis was just the beginning, as other app discovery services may soon be removed from the App Store. Sources told Paczkowski that AppGratis won't be returning to the App Store in its current form under Apple's rules, suggesting the software is "almost certainly finished as an iOS app."
post #2 of 32
No one want store with in store....Good jobs apple
post #3 of 32
This is like Inception. Does AppGratis show up in AppGratis?¡

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #4 of 32
The problem is the Apple store simply doesn't allow for discovery of apps that might be of interest. There is too many, not enough search options, too many "discovered" apps that are irrelevant.

The problems with the iTunes store in general is that it is a lot less useful, especially as compared to Amazon's examples when reviewing books. Apple needs to expand quality reviews of books, and apps. The paucity of such information makes shopping on iTunes more like dumpster diving.
post #5 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selva Raj View Post


No one want store with in store....Good jobs apple

 

Except Apple....they've been doing store within a store in the real world for quite some time now.

post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selva Raj View Post


No one want store with in store....Good jobs apple

 

No one but the 45 employees the Company hires and the 12 million people who actively use the app.

 

Moreover, Apple should have a grandfather clause because the reality is the app has been on the app store since 2008, and the company has invested significant resources in developing the app. Moreover, after extensive discussions, Apple's team approved the app. A fact is Apple's rules are not always black and white. I would be very nervous as a developer to develop for a platform where the rules can be changed at any time, and when the rules are foggy, the company creating rules sides on the side of exclusion. 

 

Here is the developers perspective. http://appgratis.com/blog/2013/04/09/appgratis-pulled-from-the-app-store-heres-the-full-story/

post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

This is like Inception. Does AppGratis show up in AppGratis?¡

Yes, but if you download it from within itself the new copy runs 20 times slower.

post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Yes, but if you download it from within itself the new copy runs 20 times slower.

I've actually experienced something like that on my iMac. I have VM Fusion and installed XenServer (which works perfectly fine as a VM), but then load a virtualized OS within the virtualized system of XenServer and it slows down to a crawl. I figured that would happen but I just wanted to see just how bad it would be.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Except Apple....they've been doing store within a store in the real world for quite some time now.
I'm assuming Best Buy isn't giving them that space for free though.
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

No one but the 45 employees the Company hires and the 12 million people who actively use the app.

And they still run their website and still have tons of working copies of the app out there and have had, according to them, millions of downloads and its business as usual.
Quote:

Moreover, Apple should have a grandfather clause because the reality is the app has been on the app store since 2008, and the company has invested significant resources in developing the app. Moreover, after extensive discussions, Apple's team approved the app.

Source? Because Apple's rather quiet about the process and something tells me that discussions about apps are NOT extensive at all. In fact, based on some of the approval screwups I'd say they simply aren't discussed on the majority of cases.

Also AppGratis may have been in the store since 2008 but its not the exact same version nor are the rules the same. So the notion of grandfathering is rather bunk. Developers sign an agreement that Apple can change the rules and they, as developers, may have to change their apps to fit the new rules and will. If someone can't handle that then they shouldn't be developers.

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 #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I've actually experienced something like that on my iMac. I have VM Fusion and installed XenServer (which works perfectly fine as a VM), but then load a virtualized OS within the virtualized system of XenServer and it slows down to a crawl. I figured that would happen but I just wanted to see just how bad it would be.

I surprised it worked at all. It's something that should work in theory (Turing machines all the way down, anything can emulate anything) but experience makes me assume in practice there will be some gotcha.

post #12 of 32
I get why they don't want apps that allow people to buy their way to higher rankings in the store. But other than that, I like AppGratis and other apps that do the same thing. I've discovered a lot of new things and got to try them for free. I wish they could come up with some sort of compromise.
post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I surprised it worked at all. It's something that should work in theory (Turing machines all the way down, anything can emulate anything) but experience makes me assume in practice there will be some gotcha.

I'm a big fan of XenServer. I figured it would work unless the XenServer install was designed to detect and then quit if it's a VM. I guess they don't think people would do that.

My plan was to get better acquainted with XenServer, not to specifically run VMs within in it. For that it worked very well. For running multiple Windows and Linux VMs in a domain setup using UBER Network Fuser allows for all my VMs to talk to each other.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #14 of 32
Instead of cracking down on app discovery services, Apple would do better to improve its own tools. Clearly there is an unmet need here. Cracking down on 3rd party services while failing to improve their own is just dumb.
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by mscientist View Post

Instead of cracking down on app discovery services, Apple would do better to improve its own tools. Clearly there is an unmet need here. Cracking down on 3rd party services while failing to improve their own is just dumb.

Have they failed to improve their own? Does one group cracking down on thing not permit another group from improving Apple's own tools?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by mscientist View Post

Instead of cracking down on app discovery services, Apple would do better to improve its own tools. Clearly there is an unmet need here. Cracking down on 3rd party services while failing to improve their own is just dumb.


Just wait.

 

Perhaps changes will come with iOS 7... and an new Apple Store.

post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

 

No one but the 45 employees the Company hires and the 12 million people who actively use the app.

 

Moreover, Apple should have a grandfather clause because the reality is the app has been on the app store since 2008, and the company has invested significant resources in developing the app. Moreover, after extensive discussions, Apple's team approved the app. A fact is Apple's rules are not always black and white. I would be very nervous as a developer to develop for a platform where the rules can be changed at any time, and when the rules are foggy, the company creating rules sides on the side of exclusion. 

 

Here is the developers perspective. http://appgratis.com/blog/2013/04/09/appgratis-pulled-from-the-app-store-heres-the-full-story/

 

I've turned down jobs that seemed questionable to me.  The fact that someone went to work for  AppGratis doesn't change the sort of app it was.  An app where people pay for special placement and  a push notification was playing with fire.  AppGratis thought they had found a backdoor way to push ads to people, but Apple caught on.  If Apple allowed it, it would have been a slippery slope.  If they wind up loosing their job, hopefully they will learn to be more careful about who they work for.  

 

I installed AppGratis for the promise of good, free apps, but rarely found that it delivered.  EVERY App of the Week has been superior to anything I saw offered on AppGratis.  Eventually, I just stopped checking (though it is still installed).  I wonder how many of those 12 millions still care about the app?

 

There are several apps that track prices and report to you when an app has become free or discounted and those are still present on the App Store.  I find those more useful.  When Apple starts cracking down on ALL discovery apps, even ones that do not involve some sort of paid placement or other violations of app guidelines, then I'll be more concerned.  So far, that's not what has happened.

post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Have they failed to improve their own? Does one group cracking down on thing not permit another group from improving Apple's own tools?

Have they failed to improve their own?

 

In any meaningful way, absolutely.

 

Does one group cracking down on thing not permit another group from improving Apple's own tools?

 

No, but it would sure be great if the two groups bothered to talk to each other.

post #19 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlord View Post


Just wait.

 

Perhaps changes will come with iOS 7... and an new Apple Store.

 

we can hope :)

post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by mscientist View Post

Instead of cracking down on app discovery services, Apple would do better to improve its own tools. Clearly there is an unmet need here. Cracking down on 3rd party services while failing to improve their own is just dumb.


I agree that Apple needs to improve App Discovery. I don't believe apps where developers pay to have their app promoted is the answer.  Apple would have to make a way for promoted apps to be excluded from its general rankings.  

 

That said, some apps just track prices and notify you of discounts.  If I understand the issues correctly, that is perfectly fine as long as the price change is detected and no money changes hands. If Apple cracks down on apps that simply track prices, I'll be pretty disgusted.  It's a a feature Apple should have built in:  a better way to search or browse apps on sale.  

post #21 of 32
Originally Posted by mscientist View Post
In any meaningful way, absolutely.


Your definition of 'meaningful' would be… what? Because it's not the real definition, is all.

 

No, but it would sure be great if the two groups bothered to talk to each other.

 

Apple talks to developers via their store guidelines. Obey or leave. It's fairly simple to get.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rednival View Post

 

I've turned down jobs that seemed questionable to me.  The fact that someone went to work for  AppGratis doesn't change the sort of app it was.  An app where people pay for special placement and  a push notification was playing with fire.  AppGratis thought they had found a backdoor way to push ads to people, but Apple caught on.  If Apple allowed it, it would have been a slippery slope.  If they wind up loosing their job, hopefully they will learn to be more careful about who they work for.  

 

I installed AppGratis for the promise of good, free apps, but rarely found that it delivered.  EVERY App of the Week has been superior to anything I saw offered on AppGratis.  Eventually, I just stopped checking (though it is still installed).  I wonder how many of those 12 millions still care about the app?

 

There are several apps that track prices and report to you when an app has become free or discounted and those are still present on the App Store.  I find those more useful.  When Apple starts cracking down on ALL discovery apps, even ones that do not involve some sort of paid placement or other violations of app guidelines, then I'll be more concerned.  So far, that's not what has happened.

 

 

The fact that the app was on the app store since 2008 without any objection from Apple and that it was an actual business that invested resources to bring a product to market should differentiate the app from some others. Moreover, it is meaningless what you thought of the app because 20 million people downloaded it, and agreed to allow the app to send them a push notification. If people didn't like the app, they could have deleted it or not agreed to allow push notifications.

 

More importantly, Apple is sending a bad message to developers because 1) the rules are not always clear, 2) not uniformly enforced, and 3) can be altered randomly after a developer has sunk significant resources into a product.  

 

As a user of Apple's products this really turns me off because I have had Apple remove several apps from the app store that I downloaded and wished to have updates for.

 

Moreover, its decisions aren't always good. Take for instance, kamasutra apps. Go onto the app store now and you will find tons of them. Mostly garbage apps. Yet, Apple removed iKamasutra, a very well done app,  supposedly because some woman complained to Apple that the women in the app have brown hair. This is after the iKamasutra had been available for years and the developer sunk tons of money into supporting the app. Now the app is on Android and not available or being updated on iOS. 

 

Apple is currently being sued for not allowing other entities to sell apps. As an Apple investor I hope the plaintiff losses, but as a user I want to see Apple lose because Apple should be allowed to prevent me from using Apps that 1) I paid for, and 2) want on a device I own.  

post #23 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Apple talks to developers via their store guidelines. Obey or leave. It's fairly simple to get.

You are clearly not a developer because the rules are not always clear, and more importantly Apple often changes them after developers sink resources into an app. Further, Apple's enforcement of its own rules are often times arbitrary. 

 

Apple's moves in cases like this one do not help the platform. 

post #24 of 32
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
…the rules are not always clear…

 

That'd be when you get in contact with Apple and ask for clarification. 


…Apple often changes them after developers sink resources into an app.

 

So adapt or die. I'd ask no more of Apple themselves.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #25 of 32
Quote:

The fact that the app was on the app store since 2008 without any objection from Apple and that it was an actual business that invested resources to bring a product to market should differentiate the app from some others. Moreover, it is meaningless what you thought of the app because 20 million people downloaded it, and agreed to allow the app to send them a push notification. If people didn't like the app, they could have deleted it or not agreed to allow push notifications.

 

In 2008 it wasn't apparent that AppGratis would become so popular that developers would eventually be able to pay to have their app appear as a top of App Store rankings.  It is pretty clear to me that this is completely about Apple protecting the integrity of its app store rankings and cracking down on apps it believes are guilty of manipulating them.  Intentionally or otherwise. 

 

If Apple doesn't adapt it's policies and change a stance here and there, the app store will be full of garbage and the iPhone experience will erode for everyone.  The issue with AppGratis is that even if you had not even installed the app, you might see an app as a popular, free app due solely to its placement within AppGratis.  That's WAY too much power for one app to have and is not something Apple could have predicted.  The number of people using the app was ultimately its downfall.  The fact that Apple waited so long to pull the app shows they thought long and hard about this and the repercussions.  

 

I'm sure the story is not over.  It is possible that Apple could fix manipulation through tweaks to the App Store ranking logic or enhancements to the iPhone API, but neither option will happen overnight. 

 

Quote:

More importantly, Apple is sending a bad message to developers because 1) the rules are not always clear, 2) not uniformly enforced, and 3) can be altered randomly after a developer has sunk significant resources into a product.  

 

"Thems the rules," as they say.  No developers like this, but they endure and adapt when necessary.  Google has periodically had to remove apps from the Play Store due to complaints of copyright violations and such as well (all the emulators vanished a few years back).  What you describe is an issue with any walled garden app stores and is not specific to Apple.

post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rednival View Post


I agree that Apple needs to improve App Discovery. I don't believe apps where developers pay to have their app promoted is the answer.  Apple would have to make a way for promoted apps to be excluded from its general rankings.

 

Why? How is that any different than Electronic Arts advertising an iOS game? The whole notion of the App Store being a "meritocracy" is kind of a farce. Companies that can afford to advertise are going to have better sales than those that can't. Especially companies like EA that can just take on an iOS icon for games that are being released on multiple platforms. No different than Adobe advertising iPad versions of apps, etc.

post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

 

Why? How is that any different than Electronic Arts advertising an iOS game? The whole notion of the App Store being a "meritocracy" is kind of a farce. Companies that can afford to advertise are going to have better sales than those that can't. Especially companies like EA that can just take on an iOS icon for games that are being released on multiple platforms. No different than Adobe advertising iPad versions of apps, etc.

 

You cannot see the difference between an ad that entices me to buy a product and an app that just slings a "free" app at me everyday and pushes a notification to go and download it?  

 

One involves a level of choice.  Usually the EA app will cost me something so I have to investigate further.  If I buy it, I like what I saw.  

 

The free app involves no risk.  I just download it and see if I like it.  What if I remove it 10 minutes later?  Doesn't matter as the download is recorded and the rank has been impacted.

 

Besides, you may not be able fix every possible form of manipulation, but you certainly fix what you can.

post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

That'd be when you get in contact with Apple and ask for clarification. 

 

HAHA!  Wait, you're serious?  Haven't you read anything?  That's not how the app approval process works.  There have been many articles/blogs about this including the one in this very story.

 

I'm an app developer and have submitted many apps for myself and clients to the app store.  You don't get in contact with Apple, you wait, then after weeks or months you either get a rejection with no explanation or a tiny email with the rule they think you broke quoted word-for-word and nothing more.  There's no one to call, no one to explain details to you, no one to negotiate with.  Just you who spent months working on a project and a client who just spent 10s of thousands of dollars on an app that is going nowhere.  

 

The only time I've seen something happen is for a bigger client that had an Apple rep assigned to them (for other non-app store business).  Rep told me to re-submit and magically it was approved right away.

post #29 of 32
post #30 of 32
Originally Posted by techguy911 View Post
HAHA!  Wait, you're serious?  Haven't you read anything?  That's not how the app approval process works.  There have been many articles/blogs about this including the one in this very story.

 

"Hey, I had a question about [guideline]. Could you clarify?"

And then someone replies to you, because you asked that question in the developer forums. I didn't say anything about submitting apps, much less getting approval for them. This is before you even MAKE the app.


Just you who spent months working on a project and a client who just spent 10s of thousands of dollars on an app that is going nowhere.

 

And it's somehow Apple's fault that you decided to plan so poorly?

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #31 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selva Raj View Post


No one want store with in store....Good jobs apple


So what you are saying is that you are against in-app purchases because that my friend, is a store within a store.

post #32 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by zippy2shoes View Post


So what you are saying is that you are against in-app purchases because that my friend, is a store within a store.

No, no it's not. It's store access within app, hence the name in-app purchase. It's still all from iTS, but more importantly it's approved by Apple. They have APIs and everything.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
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