French government takes issue with Apple’s AppGratis removal

By , Apr 11, 2013

AppGratis teaser

The AppGratis app curation software is no longer available on the App Store but the controversy is far from being over. After AppGratis CEO Simon Dawalt lambasted Apple on a company blog for kicking his app out of the App Store, a move he called “an absolutely crazy situation to deal with,” a French minister today slagged the iPhone maker over the ouster. Fleur Pellerin, France’s junior minister for digital economy, publicly described Apple’s decision to pull AppGratis as “extremely brutal and unilateral.”

She urged European regulators to “think about legislation” because Apple is not “behaving ethically” in its dealings with small startups like AppGratis…

Reuters reports:

She added that certain Internet companies were guilty of “repeated abusive behaviour” and said she would ask the European Commission and EU member states to better regulate digital platforms, search engines and social media.

AllThingsD has the quote:

This isn’t virtuous and dignified behavior for a company of that scale. The French are the world’s second-largest developers of software applications for mobile devices behind the United States.

What is the sense of investing if, overnight, your business model is jeopardized by a unilateral decision. This is an issue of fairness.

Apple on its part told Reuters it removed AppGratis because it had disregarded its technical specifications. The iPhone maker had a discussion with the app’s maker before removing it from the store.

Pellerin’s calling out on Apple could also be politically motivated.

Pellerin is a junior minister for digital economy with the French government and AppGratis, which has a staff of 40, is headquartered in Paris, France.

At any rate, it’s Apple’s platform and the company should be able to define rules and impose restrictions in order to ensure the premium user experience.

Apple, however, could be blamed for failing to communicate its requirements to publishers in a clear, concise and unambiguous manner.

That said, AppGratis publisher iMediapp does seem to have violated a newly introduced clause in Apple’s Terms of Service designed to head off any confusion by consumers and protect the legitimacy of the App Store’s ranking feature.

It also violated another clause which strictly prohibits any use of Apple’s push alerts system for delivery of marketing messages.

Draw your own conclusions.

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  • hocus86

    In regards to the app being pulled due to the T&C, the article you refer to has a publish date of 10/1/12. Yeah that was 6 months ago. If AppGratis has had 6 months to adjust I have a hard time seeing the side of AppGratis on that basis. Now whether that should be in the T&C to begin with, I got nothin.

  • Anon

    45 Members and not one could read the Terms and Conditions. Apple may be harsh, but their terms and conditions are very clear. AppGratis deserved to be pulled. If they didn’t like it, they shouldn’t of accepted the contract of Apple’s appstore by agreeing to the terms. I guess next time they won’t just click the box saying they read the terms instead of actually reading them. LOL So long Gratis, I never used you.

    • Brian

      They can sue to have the judge change these unfair terms.

      • sleeperjoe

        Unfair terms? You mean the same terms that thousands of other devs/companies adhere to and yet still manage to thrive in the App Store?

      • trumpet444

        Sue? What if someone thinks that the “Do not Trespass” sign in front of your door is “unfair” because they really really want to see the inside of your house? They would have no right to sue, it’s your house, you set the rules. They are nothing but visitors. The App Store is Apple’s house. They set the terms and conditions. If you don’t like it, you move on somewhere else. You don’t turn into a pissy little brat and threaten to sue

      • http://twitter.com/jsaundersdesign Jack Saunders

        Trespassing is against the law, thus your argument is invalid

      • Anon

        Trespassing on private property is only trespassing if the owner deems it’s trespassing. Work on your law buddy, looks like you never taken a single law class in your life. I guess when someone comes to your door and rings your doorbell, that’s trespassing and it’s illegal? no… now if you tell them to leave, and they refuse then it’s trespassing.

      • Anon

        No they can’t. Those terms are fair. If they didn’t like it, they should be developing for Android. They AGREED to those terms. :) If you took Business Law 1 and 2 you’d know they can’t sue. They are in breach of contract; not Apple. LOL. They breached the contract, and Apple kicked them out. Fair game buddy. You can’t sue for an unfair contract. A contract is ALWAYS in favor of the creator. If you don’t agree with the contract DON’T accept it, but they AGREED HAHA. My business law teacher always said, read every contract including those pesky terms and conditions to use basic services. Know what you’re agreeing to.

      • http://twitter.com/jsaundersdesign Jack Saunders

        But if Apples business tactics are deemed unfair then they can sue to have them changed

      • Anon

        It’s a contract, which falls under the Common Law since its not the sale of goods. It’s not a unfair “business tactic They would lose in court, because as a plaintiff you have to prove all elements. Did you read Apples terms and conditions? Completely fair, and very clear. No matter what you say, they have no chance in court if they decided to give it a try. especially against Apple’s monster lawyers.They need to take their loss, move to android, READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS and fix their app to abide by them.
        Courts don’t really show sympathy for people who can’t abide by a contract. Contract law is extremely lengthy, and very straight forward. If you felt the terms were unfair you shouldn’t have agreed to the terms. They have no chance.

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        Asking Apple to change their rules is like saying Google that I want to use Android or their services but they cannot collect my data.

        Or asking Sony that they cannot block me for using XBox360 discs on the PS3… or asking Microsoft that they cannot block my Live account if I hack my Xbox to install apps and other stuff…

      • Anon

        Collecting user data without permission or acknowledgement is against the law. That’s why they must inform you they are going to be collecting data. FB was already hit with this issue. That is why, when you add an app it tells you what that app will have access to, and for you to accept or not. :X Now, if you say you didn’t know they were doing it, it’s all in the terms and conditions, for anyone who actually takes the time to read them. Very important stuff. Also, when you sign up for a Google or Facebook account their terms and conditions allow them to track you on and off of their sites so they may “better your experience” ;) But, a few chrome extensions can put a stop to their tracking.

        But, in Sony’s case, they have the right to restrict their console to Playstation games only. It’s also in their terms and conditions that modifying the console is a breach of contract. It’s not heavily enforced, but it does exist. For Microsoft, they go through a great deal of trouble to ban console modders from playing online. It’s not a week ban, not a month ban, but an instant PERMA ban.

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        That’s the point. People really need to understand that. Apple is evil is pure BS, started by haters. As we both can see, every brand follow their own rules. Some of them are sued because they make deals with other brands and try to monopolize the market. Like Google did with Android. But people forget the iOS is a proprietary OS, made from Apple, for Apple products.

      • Anon

        Indeed sir. Indeed.

  • Jordan Miller

    It’s APPLE’s software and its APPLE’s App Store. In no way should any government be in any kind of involvement. They don’t need their hand in everything. This is a company matter not a country one.

    • http://twitter.com/jsaundersdesign Jack Saunders

      While you are right Apple should not get away with things that companies like microsoft would not have gotten away with in the late 90′s. Plus they did this without warning possibly causing hundreds of people to lose their jobs.

      • Jordan Miller

        The only possible thing that could have made this better is if they had gave them a warning.

        But that would have just been a courtesy.
        If any of us were in the same situation where we owned a company and one of your employees was taking some of the profit that should have been intended for the company.

        You would be stupid not to let that employee go.

      • jp2002

        It was either stupidity on the part of the app reviewer or it was apple’s strategy to kill them to promote their own app (chomp), which they acquired last year.

      • felixtaf

        You are right… But the guidelines wasnt changed day before yesterday and app was pulled yesterday (for example).. App Gratis should have addressed the violation of its software with App Store guidelines… Fault in their part too…

    • http://www.facebook.com/hamza.alg.9 Hamza Alg

      So are you telling me if I get kicked out from my job by the owner of the business u will also tell me it’s his company and he can do what he likes?

      • Jordan Miller

        Um…. Yeah. That’s exactly what I think. If I own the company and you are under contract and you breach that contract in some way. I have every right to let you go.

      • jp2002

        LOL read their blog post.. They don’t advertise using push notification..They have a deal of the day offer. And the notification just says the “your deal of the day has arrived”. Thats not advertising. They are just notifying you, so that you don’t miss the deal. Get your facts right. Apple just wants to kill app gratis for the chomp they acquired last year. There was no breach in contract.

    • Damian W

      You missing one point. Apple is now a public company and and they earn millions because of the public. People like us made them big. And this is why government should sometimes regulate their business. Sure it is apple business but it does not mean they can break rules or don’t follow ethical behaviour. Personally I think AppStore is a joke. The policy is ridiculous. Examples: in-purchase stupid idea, then we have separate app version on iPhone and iPad that we have to pay for each one. Even though it is just the same app with extended parameters. Next, lots of scam apps that continue to exist in appstore. Basically, apple has very primitive rules in AppStore, considering they have high level in tech advancement.

      • Jordan Miller

        My answer is in your own statement. They are a PUBLIC company why would the government need to regulate them?

        Not to mention AppGratis are the ones who didn’t follow the rules. Don’t agree to TOS or a Contract that you will have problems with.

        Sir your argument is invalid.

  • workin

    Sure, it’s a political ‘hot potato’ for France. Truth gets lost in the posturing of different agendas. But the facts are not good. Wasn’t the iPad version just approved a week before what’s been reported as a sudden yanking of the app from store?

  • RarestName

    Make it Cydia exclusive! That’ll teach Apple!
    XD

  • sleeperjoe

    I see the name Fleur and I think it’s that one from Harry Potter.

    She just seems like another unknown trying to make a name for themselves on the current anti-Apple hate fest the media loves to latch on to. Nothing sells better these days than a good bit of Apple hate.

    AppGratis got caught out and are not as innocent as they try to appear.

    It’s like catching your kid stealing cookies and have he/she argue that they’ve been stealing for months so shouldn’t be punished and should be allowed to continue.

  • trumpet444

    Just another government busybody wanting to control every aspect of everyone’s lives. That “think about legislation” line pisses me off to no end. I don’t really care for what Apple did here (its their prerogative though) but it’s none of the government’s damn business, French or not.

    • Kurt

      They are socialists…its acceptable there. French make some awesome apps/games I hate that a company acts like a communist state and bans good apps. I don’t want to see french developers being swayed from developing for iOS when they are so talented.

      • jp2002

        Very true.. We enjoy good jailbreaks and partly its credited to cyril (pod2g).

  • http://www.facebook.com/mustafahamidchaudhry7 Mustafa Hamid Chaudhry

    This is France everything single thing should be allowed!

    • Guest

      Huh? Its a leftist country, that goes against freedoms. Just like USA is heading.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mustafahamidchaudhry7 Mustafa Hamid Chaudhry

        France against US who said that? Your actually a Dumb

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000514380051 John Sklikas

    No, I disagree with you Christian. This decision is not fair because if Apple had a problem with the app, they shouldn’t have approved it in the first place. Secondly, these terms didn’t exist at the time of the creation of the app. Thirdly, this app was useful for thousands if not for millions of users. It is OK to change the terms and enforce them into new apps, but you just can’t force your new terms to old apps especially if it is an app with so many users.

    • jp2002

      More than that, they actually din breach any of their terms..

    • felixtaf

      You cant ask Apple to change its guidelines coz u need an app badly. We all kno, App Store has ~700,000 (which adhere to the guidelines), then why cant App Gratis adhere to it?. And Terms doesnt exist at the time os app creation, doesnt mean that they shud not adhere to the new guidelines. Also, The guidelines wasnt introduced overnight to pull the app.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000514380051 John Sklikas

        You have a point and old apps should adhere to the new terms only if the new term is so crucial. Now, how is a term that destroys thousand of apps so necessary?

      • felixtaf

        New terms are introduced not to target and remove App Gratis. Their App Store, their service, their guidelines to make things better. They do this to improve the App Store – not to pull a popular app… Thats wat i think…. Moreover, What if a future app use this loophole (I mean before the guidelines) to indulge in fraudulent activities?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000514380051 John Sklikas

        I agree with you in most parts, but I just fail to see how a regulation that forbids other apps from promoting other apps makes things better. You know why? Because it’s hypocritical. Think of how every developer promotes his other apps from his app, just by creating a link saying, “check my other apps”. Think of how Rovio advertises all of the other Angry Birds games, even if you have them on the app. These ads are not wanted so they should be removed. But people that downloaded AppGratis were aware from the beginning that the app would promote other apps. So, I think that Apple should change the regulation to “Apps that advertise other apps without the approval of the user will be discontinued”.

      • felixtaf

        Infact, I got nearly 10 cool apps I needed, thru App Gratis… I like it. But am not gonna fret over it coz Apple removed it. Reg ur Rovio example, its promoting their own products and i think the guidelines says Apps shud not promote other apps thru ads or notifications. Hope App Gratis do something to bring back the app (I dont think Apple s going to change their guidelines).

  • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

    It’s good for users that Apple doesn’t allow advertisements over Push Notifications!
    App Makers just need to follow the basic rules.. nothing else!

    Just imagine if everybody could use Push for Ads! Facebook, Twitter… Groupon…What’s App…Games…and many other apps! It would be CRAZY because you only had two options: Don’t install those apps or Disable push for those apps.

    Now lets see, someone send me a “whats App” message and I’ve disabled Push because (lets imagine) they use ads! That would kill the purpose of having that app!

  • regkilla

    AppGratis not working anymore. Blank screen in the app.

  • TekNoah

    Now I see why there are so many pick pockets in tourist rich areas of France, the government seems to promote this sort of behavior.

  • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

    The app may have been removed from the App Store but you can still use it. If it’s backed up in your itunes library you can also sync it with a new device, free of charge. Apple didn’t steal any money from you.

    • Damian W

      In my case I restore my Windows and OSX on a monthly basis due to hardware and software upgrades, therefore I lose certain files such as iTunes libraries. You are right about backup. But lets face it, how many people know how to find the dictionary folder with the iTunes apps? For new users it is quite hard, since apple does not mention anything about this folder. It seems like it is well hidden on purpose. Also, it is quite tedious to keep backing up the apps just in case If apple decided to remove them. As I said, I did my backup and I can use my app now. But it was just a matter of luck. Next time I might be too late with backups and the app will be lost forever together with the money I spent.

      However, I find it really strange that APple removes paid apps. I want to put stress on PAID apps again. They should notify users of such action beforehand so that at least we could make a new backup. For example, How would you feel about situation when you see one day that all your paid apps are removed from the appstore? And apple did not say anything about it. They just did what they wanted because they make the rules. After all, they will tell you it is your responsibility to make a backup, even though they dont help users make this buckup any easier.

      BTW, I thought the whole idea of AppStore was that you don’t need physical backups anymore because the apps are always accessible in the cloud store.

  • http://twitter.com/gadgetgreg Greg Gazin

    The French Government should mind their own business. The situation is no different than a retail store saying that for your product to be on my shelf it must meet/maintain certain requirements/standards. If it doesn’t, what right does the government say that I have to continue to offer to sell that product?