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French minister takes Apple to task over yanking AppGratis from App Store

post #1 of 75
Thread Starter 
In an interview on Thursday, France's digital industry minister Fleur Pellerin had some tough words for Apple over the company's takedown of app discovery service AppGratis, saying the move was "brutal" and put the startup in danger.

As noted by CNET, Pellerin now plans to ask the EU to examine the takedown, while requesting European regulators crack down on digital platforms like search engines and social media outlets. She said the recent decision justifies closer inspection of how influential tech companies "impose" their rules and regulations on others.

"I recall that the French are the world's second largest developers of software applications behind the United States for mobile devices," Pellerin told LeMonde Informatique. "What is the sense of investing if, overnight, the economic model is jeopardized by a unilateral decision...There is an issue of fairness in commercial relations..."

Fleur Pellerin
French Minister Delegate for Small and Medium Enterprises, Innovation, and the Digital Economy, Fleur Pellerin. | Source: Global Post


Before being pulled from the App Store earlier this week, France-based App Gratis served up notable iOS titles to more than 10 million users. The company's blog noted the service drove one million app installs per day for its app partners.

In banning AppGratis, Apple cited a newly implemented rule that denied services from promote other apps in a manner similar to the App Store. The Cupertino company also said the app broke another mandate against using push notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing.

A day after AppGratis was deprecated from the App Store, company CEO Simon Dawlat aired his frustration in a blog post, claiming that reviewers had not only approved the most recent app update, but also let pass an iPad version, which was given the OK just one week prior.

The AppGratis fuss is just the beginning, according to AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, who heard from people familiar with the matter 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." This thinking, which holds that such apps "undermine the integrity" of the App Store by offering what are effectively alternative storefronts, could lead to broader restrictions in the near future.
post #2 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

She said the recent decision justifies closer inspection of how influential tech companies "impose" their rules and regulations on others.

 

+1 for the irony.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #3 of 75

So don't buy Apple products, France. Would you give a frick if the app in question wasn't based in France?

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #4 of 75
Actually she called it "extremely brutal". You might not agree with it, but "extremely brutal" it isn't.


If little faults proceeding on distemper
Shall not be wink'd at, how shall we stretch our eye
When capital crimes, chew'd, swallow'd, and digested,
Appear before us?
-Henry V


Reserve such language for cases where extreme brutality are in evidence.
post #5 of 75
"I recall that the French are the world's second largest developers of software applications behind the United States for mobile devices," Pellerin told LeMonde Informatique. "What is the sense of investing if, overnight, the economic model is jeopardized by a unilateral decision...There is an issue of fairness in commercial relations..."

Better make sure that you invest in companies that play by the rules in order for the model to succeed.

Commercial Fairness ? huh, the French have a long and proud tradition in commercial fairness ?
When did that happen ?
post #6 of 75

Apple ultimately can run its AppStore they way it likes as a private contracted construct, as we all have the freedom as consumers and vendors to take our products and money to other platforms.  There is no reason that services like AppGratis could not become a web app instead!

 

France is socialist out of control -- big government run amok.  Everyone seems to think gov't needs to do more - when they really need to do LESS...  The free market works, if the bureaucrats would let it and stop interfering in every little thing.

post #7 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

 

+1 for the irony.

Haha, yes. Someone from the government complaining about the imposition of rules and regulations, classic.

post #8 of 75
Why the **** is the French minister getting involved in this? This is really a special kind of attention-whoring. Apple accepts thousands of new apps a week, yet rejections get a massive, unwarranted amount of coverage so that people with agendas can get into the spotlight. Maybe it should be international news when a product doesn't get into Walmart? It's apple's store, they set the rules, which more often than not benefits the average consumer and overall store quality - you don't agree with their rules, make your own fucking store, or better yet, just develop for Android and see if you can make money in that clusterfuck of a store with 80% piracy rates.
post #9 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Haha, yes. Someone from the government complaining about the imposition of rules and regulations, classic.

 

More specific, the French government complaining about someone imposing rules and regulations. Ironic indeed.

post #10 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Apple ultimately can run its AppStore they way it likes as a private contracted construct, as we all have the freedom as consumers and vendors to take our products and money to other platforms.  

 

I think it's interesting that many people want everyone else, from the government down to the cable and wireless companies, to practice net neutrality... but then allow the final step in the chain, a device maker, full control over what kind of apps can or cannot be downloaded.

 

If Apple can do it, shouldn't Verizon or AT&T be allowed to censor apps as well?  After all, you can just take your money elsewhere.  Unless everyone is censoring.

post #11 of 75

If this French politician wants to run Apple, I suggest she apply to the board and ask to be CEO. Her qualifications will be given due consideration.

post #12 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

I think it's interesting that many people want everyone else, from the government down to the cable and wireless companies, to practice net neutrality... but then allow the final step in the chain, a device maker, full control over what kind of apps can or cannot be downloaded.

If Apple can do it, shouldn't Verizon or AT&T be allowed to censor apps as well?

You have a choice of device makers to choose from. If you don't like their policies buy someone else's device. The same can not be said for the vast majority of this country when it comes to ISPs.
post #13 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

I think it's interesting that many people want everyone else, from the government down to the cable and wireless companies, to practice net neutrality... but then allow the final step in the chain, a device maker, full control over what kind of apps can or cannot be downloaded.

If Apple can do it, shouldn't Verizon or AT&T be allowed to censor apps as well?  After all, you can just take your money elsewhere.  Unless everyone is censoring.

Buying an Apple product is a choice. In many areas of the country, you have no choice for ISP. I only have access to Comcast for high speed Internet.
post #14 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

I think it's interesting that many people want everyone else, from the government down to the cable and wireless companies, to practice net neutrality... but then allow the final step in the chain, a device maker, full control over what kind of apps can or cannot be downloaded.

If Apple can do it, shouldn't Verizon or AT&T be allowed to censor apps as well?  After all, you can just take your money elsewhere.  Unless everyone is censoring.
They have in the past. I know when I had an HTC AT&T phone they didn't allow the SiriusXM app in Android market.

Honestly this is much ado about nothing, except App Gratis looking for attention. Seems to me the EU has more important things to worry about than this.
post #15 of 75

Ce que vous pensez, madame, ne m'interesse pas.

post #16 of 75
Apple should also ban apps providing similar services as maps, safari, weather, calendar, notes, podcast... Only Apple can provide perfect apps fulfilling all the needs of the user. Rectify!!!
post #17 of 75
Most of you seem to be missing the most important point.

She's hot!

1wink.gif

(Yes, I am just being silly)
post #18 of 75
We saved your a** in WWII so give us a break. /sarcasm
Edited by jd_in_sb - 4/11/13 at 5:26pm

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post #19 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Most of you seem to be missing the most important point.

She's hot!

1wink.gif

(Yes, I am just being silly)

It doesn't give her opinion any greater validity. This is part of the "Apple is big and evil" narrative that's in vogue these days.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #20 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

We saved your a** in WWII so give us a break.

Typical American response to anything French people say. Also, irrelevant.
post #21 of 75
Having services like AppGratis that let developers PAY to get better ranking in the official store, is also "brutal."

Something like AppShopper (which has a great site even if the app is gone) make much more sense to me: it doesn't take money in exchange for impacting App Store rankings. It is not, in other words, a disguised ad system.

I'm not familiar enough with AppGratis to know if it was a problem, but it sounds like it could have been.

In addition, sending ads via push notification (truly "brutal"!) SHOULD be banned, and they violated that separate rule too, apparently.

I hope AppGratis returns--and AppShopper too--but I won't be saddened if they had to modify their app to follow rules announced long ago. (Some make it seem like Apple's "grace period" where they didn't enforce the rules on AppGratis makes Apple MORE of a tyrant! Nice spin. As if doing this with less notice would have been better.)

Interestingly, some such as AppsFire were never pulled at all, and in fact just got an update. It will be interesting to see how they all shake out.

As for the principle of a curated App Store... obviously ANY kind of rules, consumer protections, or curation have a dark side. Nobody should deny that.

Just as nobody should deny that they have huge benefits as well.

Having only ONE central app source on iOS has a dark side too. And huge benefits that cannot be denied. In the end, we have a better app selection than any other platform.
post #22 of 75
I also see the irony in that, but in Appgrati's defense, aren't push notifications an opt-in feature? Every app that offers push-notifications asks you if you would to receive them. Right from the time you first launch it.

And what's wrong with advertising apps over others? Just like any product in the capitalist world. (Genuine question, someone please explain)
post #23 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziadjk View Post


Typical American response to anything French people say. Also, irrelevant.


I forgot to add the sarcasm marks

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post #24 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

We saved your a** in WWII so give us a break.

 

erm... along with the UK, the Common Wealth, Poland, the Soviet Union, China and many others.

 

Don't believe everything that Hollywood tells you...

post #25 of 75

Who pucking cares about French!  They are already poor. Billionaires are running out of that freaking country. Government has no other job left lol

post #26 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The AppGratis fuss is just the beginning, according to AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, who heard from people familiar with the matter 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." This thinking, which holds that such apps "undermine the integrity" of the App Store by offering what are effectively alternative storefronts, could lead to broader restrictions in the near future.

If this part is true, Apple already knows how to fix it. Get rid of the global charts and replace them with personal charts. That way no one is having to pay their way to the top but instead, hundreds of millions of users are able to sort through the apps quickly, push the junk out of view and start distributing the revenue more evenly between developers. More Genius, less chart.

The App Store doesn't highlight deals either. They could have a daily deals section. Steam started doing this ages ago and it's a great way to promote apps and encourage people to use the store frequently. They can have 100 random slots with 5 random ones on the iTunes front page every refresh in an 8 hour rotation. This gives them 300 x 365 = ~110,000 app promotions out of 800,000 apps per year. The promotions could be an API option for developers and apps would be chosen randomly and discounted by the amount the developer sets.

I feel like the App Store is a fairly passive experience - just the same static lists of apps I don't want. Apps like AppGratis clearly exist to get round the discoverability problems. If the problems were fixed, apps like AppGratis wouldn't be a threat to the store.

As for them banning the apps, if they break the rules, it's justifiable but they could make up a rule that says 'no apps are allowed that refer to squirrels' and then start a new cull. They have a very dominant position in this industry, as does Google so their decisions can make or break other businesses. I totally agree with the irony of government imposing regulations on a company's regulations but free markets are open to abuse. Imagine if people got the idea that Google was removing links to competitors' services, there would be calls for regulation. There will always be conflicts between government and business as well as between large and small businesses. The best form of regulation has to work for the greater good. Apple's form of regulation primarily works to serve Apple, which doesn't cover enough interests.

A dilemma arises if government sides with companies making apps like AppGratis but not for apps that promote adult or political material. There's going to be a fair amount of bias involved in which rules are supported or not. It is a very difficult job being the arbiter of content approval.
post #27 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

If Apple can do it, shouldn't Verizon or AT&T be allowed to censor apps as well?  After all, you can just take your money elsewhere.  Unless everyone is censoring.

If they want to, seeing as how I'm in Australia, I don't give a f*ck.

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post #28 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziadjk View Post

I also see the irony in that, but in Appgrati's defense, aren't push notifications an opt-in feature? Every app that offers push-notifications asks you if you would to receive them. Right from the time you first launch it.

And what's wrong with advertising apps over others? Just like any product in the capitalist world. (Genuine question, someone please explain)

 

True about the push notifications, but still in violation of Apple's terms. Apple offers a framework to advertise apps (iAd) and gets some share for providing this platform. Bypassing this platform by abusing push notifications (using Apple's freely provided infrastructure and capitalizing on it) is obviously fishy at least. All my attempts to get free advertisements in the press, radio or TV were fruitless, why should Apple be forced to act differently?

 

About your genuine question... I do not know the answer, but if I imaging setting up an information counter in a Walmart or Target store (without paying rent) and giving their customers differing information and advise from what their staff does... I may lack imagination, but I assume I would be kicked out faster than AppGratis got kicked.

 

I may be old fashioned here, but Apple is providing the store, the development tools, the notification servers, the free hosting and delivery of the apps... and companies like AppGratis think paying $99 developer fee annually entitles them to use all this, ignore all rules and cry foul when it fails. Not in my book, fwiw.

 

===

 

About the article: I would not give too much weight to this whole story. The French government is fairly new, most of their ministers are fairly unknown (my wife is French, and she did not even know this lady exists) and they are already having quite a bit of a credibility crisis right now. Nothing gives you more positive press instantly than putting up a fight with big bad US corporations... Everybody will forget this story in less than a week.

post #29 of 75

If I were the CEO of Apple, I'd add a 75% surcharge to all Apple products sold in France to protest their demonization and absurd taxation of successful people and the rich. I'd go as far as to say that it's a human rights violation.

post #30 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

I think it's interesting that many people want everyone else, from the government down to the cable and wireless companies, to practice net neutrality... but then allow the final step in the chain, a device maker, full control over what kind of apps can or cannot be downloaded.

 

If Apple can do it, shouldn't Verizon or AT&T be allowed to censor apps as well?  After all, you can just take your money elsewhere.  Unless everyone is censoring.

 

There's a difference between a common carrier and a proprietary store.    Verizon and AT&T are providing a road, not a retail store.    It's very easy to say that Apple should put up anything anyone wants, but you know if they permitted anything that there would be tons of virus-ridden applications and the store would be overtaken by porn.    I'm not saying that Apple always makes the right decision and they've had to retract some.    But I'd rather have a store with some controls on it than a store with none.   

 

Personally, I already think there are far too many applications in the store which makes it almost impossible to find anything unless you know the precise app your'e looking for or unless it's already a hit.  

post #31 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post


I forgot to add the sarcasm marks
My apologies. 👍
post #32 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

If I were the CEO of Apple, I'd add a 75% surcharge to all Apple products sold in France to protest their demonization and absurd taxation of successful people and the rich. I'd go as far as to say that it's a human rights violation.

 

No offence, but this is bordering on arrogance. While it may be hard for some people to understand, but there are societies that have other values than egoism. France has one of the best public school systems in the world, their public healthcare is among the best and most efficient world-wide (e.g. French health care index is 34 places ahead of the US, France is the country with the lowest number of avoidable deaths, while the US are dead last - pun intended - among developed nations, while having the highest prices for medical services, up to 500% above European rates), and poor dead people in France do still get an acceptable funeral and are not collected each night by garbage trucks as in Detroit. Why good education, healthcare for everybody and a respectful treatment of dead fellow citizens should be a "human rights violation"... escapes me for now. Of course, these things do cost money. And people paying the top tax rate of 75% can certainly afford it - they still make millions a year, which they can only make and enjoy, because others work for them (after enjoying good public schools), pick up their garbage and provide a safe environment with low crime rates.

 

Including all mandatory insurances and taxes I only see approx. 46% of my income each month (in Germany). But I have no problems paying that much. Even if my business goes downhill tomorrow, my children will still have access to good schools and universities, I will still have access to full health care (100%), I won't have to live in a trailer park or under a bridge, and when I die I will not be carried away by a garbage truck. I also enjoy that people around me do not have to live in misery, even if it costs "my" money. And I am not even religious...

post #33 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

 

No offence, but this is bordering on arrogance. While it may be hard for some people to understand, but there are societies that have other values than egoism. France has one of the best public school systems in the world, their public healthcare is among the best and most efficient world-wide (e.g. French health care index is 34 places ahead of the US, France is the country with the lowest number of avoidable deaths, while the US are dead last - pun intended - among developed nations, while having the highest prices for medical services, up to 500% above European rates), and poor dead people in France do still get an acceptable funeral and are not collected each night by garbage trucks as in Detroit. Why good education, healthcare for everybody and a respectful treatment of dead fellow citizens should be a "human rights violation"... escapes me for now. Of course, these things do cost money. And people paying the top tax rate of 75% can certainly afford it - they still make millions a year, which they can only make and enjoy, because others work for them (after enjoying good public schools), pick up their garbage and provide a safe environment with low crime rates.

 

Including all mandatory insurances and taxes I only see approx. 46% of my income each month (in Germany). But I have no problems paying that much. Even if my business goes downhill tomorrow, my children will still have access to good schools and universities, I will still have access to full health care (100%), I won't have to live in a trailer park or under a bridge, and when I die I will not be carried away by a garbage truck. I also enjoy that people around me do not have to live in misery, even if it costs "my" money. And I am not even religious...

I don't think that Apple ][ understands what altruism is..

post #34 of 75
They still have their website and their email service. Even they say its business as usual.

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 #35 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

True about the push notifications, but still in violation of Apple's terms. Apple offers a framework to advertise apps (iAd) and gets some share for providing this platform. Bypassing this platform by abusing push notifications (using Apple's freely provided infrastructure and capitalizing on it) is obviously fishy at least. All my attempts to get free advertisements in the press, radio or TV were fruitless, why should Apple be forced to act differently?

About your genuine question... I do not know the answer, but if I imaging setting up an information counter in a Walmart or Target store (without paying rent) and giving their customers differing information and advise from what their staff does... I may lack imagination, but I assume I would be kicked out faster than AppGratis got kicked.

I may be old fashioned here, but Apple is providing the store, the development tools, the notification servers, the free hosting and delivery of the apps... and companies like AppGratis think paying $99 developer fee annually entitles them to use all this, ignore all rules and cry foul when it fails. Not in my book, fwiw.

===

About the article: I would not give too much weight to this whole story. The French government is fairly new, most of their ministers are fairly unknown (my wife is French, and she did not even know this lady exists) and they are already having quite a bit of a credibility crisis right now. Nothing gives you more positive press instantly than putting up a fight with big bad US corporations... Everybody will forget this story in less than a week.

Excellent post.
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post #36 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

No offence, but this is bordering on arrogance. While it may be hard for some people to understand, but there are societies that have other values than egoism. France has one of the best public school systems in the world, their public healthcare is among the best and most efficient world-wide (e.g. French health care index is 34 places ahead of the US, France is the country with the lowest number of avoidable deaths, while the US are dead last - pun intended - among developed nations, while having the highest prices for medical services, up to 500% above European rates), and poor dead people in France do still get an acceptable funeral and are not collected each night by garbage trucks as in Detroit. Why good education, healthcare for everybody and a respectful treatment of dead fellow citizens should be a "human rights violation"... escapes me for now. Of course, these things do cost money. And people paying the top tax rate of 75% can certainly afford it - they still make millions a year, which they can only make and enjoy, because others work for them (after enjoying good public schools), pick up their garbage and provide a safe environment with low crime rates.

Including all mandatory insurances and taxes I only see approx. 46% of my income each month (in Germany). But I have no problems paying that much. Even if my business goes downhill tomorrow, my children will still have access to good schools and universities, I will still have access to full health care (100%), I won't have to live in a trailer park or under a bridge, and when I die I will not be carried away by a garbage truck. I also enjoy that people around me do not have to live in misery, even if it costs "my" money. And I am not even religious...

Equally excellent post.
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post #37 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by hungover View Post

I don't think that Apple ][ understands what altruism is..

Being the informed person that I am, I obviously know what it is. However, I do not agree with it and I find it to be a repulsive concept which is often misused and hijacked by people with not good intentions.

post #38 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

I think it's interesting that many people want everyone else, from the government down to the cable and wireless companies, to practice net neutrality... but then allow the final step in the chain, a device maker, full control over what kind of apps can or cannot be downloaded.

 

If Apple can do it, shouldn't Verizon or AT&T be allowed to censor apps as well?  After all, you can just take your money elsewhere.  Unless everyone is censoring.

Apple doesn't control what you can do or where you can go on the internet. Apple controls only what is sold in their app store which if you don't like you can always buy someone else's  product. AT&T and Verizon do have total control of anything they choose to sell under whatever guidelines they decide to use, which again if you don't like you can always purchase a different product from some other vendor.

 

What Apple, AT&T and Verizon can't do, legally, is limit where you can go on the internet which none of them attempt to do.

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

 

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete...

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Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

 

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete...

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post #39 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

We saved your a** in WWII so give us a break. /sarcasm

... and they saved ours long before that, so they're even. /s
post #40 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

If I were the CEO of Apple, I'd add a 75% surcharge to all Apple products sold in France to protest their demonization and absurd taxation of successful people and the rich. I'd go as far as to say that it's a human rights violation.

 

Then it's a good thing you're not. 

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