French government takes issue with Apple’s AppGratis removal

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.