AppGratis (teaser)

The app recommendation engine AppGratis’s woes with Apple continue with word that the iPhone maker has now disabled push alerts for the existing users of the software. AppGratis, which employs a staff of 40 at its Paris, France headquarters, saw its iOS app booted eleven days ago from the App Store for violating two clauses of Apple’s iOS agreement with third-party developers. This being a major blow to the app curation engine, which claims some twelve million users, the company has emailed its user base to inform them of Apple’s move…

According to French publication JDN, AppGratis attempted to calm its users down by announcing a daily special offers newsletter to keep them informed about app offers.

Here’s a copy of the newsletter AppGratis sent out earlier this morning, which was obtained by TechCrunch.

Apple kills AppGratis push notifications (email newsleter)

Hopefully your Italian is better than mine.

Apple clearly took an issue with AppGratis after finding out the software uses its Push Notification servers to deliver what it called marketing messages to users, apparently a big no-no under Apple’s terms.

Furthermore, in addition to editorial picks, AppGratis takes money from developers who choose to use the service to promote their apps – the practice that also flies against Apple’s rules.

In response to Apple’s moves, AppGratis is now petitioning its users to send supportive emails on its behalf. In less than two days, the petition has already drawn support from nearly a million people.

According to AppGratis, it sends the App Store around 300 million visits each year.

AppGratis petition 20130418

However, not everyone is sympathetic of how AppGratis operates.

Some feel the service uses the money earned from developers to game the App Store charts, with Steve Kobach of Business Insider noting “a disconnect between AppGratis’s official statements about how it promotes apps and how it attracts developers for such promotion.”

This is precisely why Apple last October amended its Terms & Conditions by adding a clause which reads that “apps that display apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.”

The goal: discourage cross-promotions, as Apple is very much interested in preserving the legitimacy of App Store charts and its own promotions, like the Free App of the Week and Editor’s Choice promotions that launched in May 2012.

In defense of his company’s biz model, AppGratis CEO Simon Dawlat blogged this morning that “we’re back to our roots.”

The app curation service earned north of nine million dollars of revenue last year and is on track to do $25 million this year.

Furthermore, the company in January announced it raised a cool $13.5 million.

AppGratis teaser

Moving forward, AppGratis is now keen on circumventing Apple’s restrictions by releasing a brand new HTML5 web application soon.

“When I stated a week ago that the reports of our death were greatly exaggerated, I wasn’t kidding,” he wrote. “Not kidding at all. AppGratis is just getting started.”

With twelve million users and established, if not controversial, biz model – little wonder AppGratis is developing survival strategies following its removal from the App Store.

I have a hunch Apple will next put the final nail in their coffin by cutting them out of its affiliate program.

  • That’s not French…it is Italian.

    • JDN and AppGratis are French companies.

      The email screenshot posted above is in Italian.

  • Eric

    Lawsuit! Some judge needs to force Apple to change its terms and conditions.

    • No, just no. As much I like AppGratis, I don’t want all developers using push notifications to advertise stuff.. just imagine Facebook, Twitter, Google and others using push notification every time…to advsertise stuff!

      PS. I know I can disable Push Notification, but than I also lost other services that those apps uses, over notification like notify me about “new messages” .. “@mentions” … etc

      • Falk M.

        Case in point is the app was all about advertisements in a good way.

        EVERYONE knew what they were getting if they so chose to.

      • As much I understand your point…the problem is that Apple can’t make any exceptions, because other developers would not like and feel discriminated.

      • Falk M.

        Apple make the rules. They can formally make exceptions.
        Or remove certain rules.

        Also, I think we should distinguish between ads we purposely subscribe to and ads that come unrequested.

      • “Also, I think we should distinguish between ads we purposely subscribe to and ads that come unrequested.”

        On that yes, I think it’s possible. The question is, how Apple will track who follow those rules…in so many apps out there. It’s a hard job.

  • dont know why appgratis was targetted, there are plenty of other similar services. they should just create a web app or try and blag that the service is a review service, and at the end say something like oh btw its free today

    • Indeed, and they are also sending out push notifications in exact the same way.

  • For everyone who actually LIKES the app, their newsletter may be the best alternative for push notifications.

  • The jailbreak community will love you! 😉

  • I might be wrong? I’m about to do some digging around but! I think Apple might have just removed AppGratis from my iPhone… I know I didn’t! And I have plugged it into my computer.

    • That is possible… iOS has a built in kill-switch controlled by apple. Not sure if it’s capable of deleting apps, but it can disable them.

      • Okay, the next question. Are then allowed to? Because this is BS!

      • You agreed to it in the Terms and Conditions… But if others still have the app, something happened that wasn’t the killswitch.

      • iOS and Android has a built in Kill-switch indeed, that can delete apps. But it’s ment to be used on malware. Apple never used before, but Google did, once at least.

    • I tested it myself to see if iTunes would delete it, and it’s still there for me on both my iPhone 4S and iTunes. Sorry bud.