iOS App Discovery Service AppGratis just confirmed that it was indeed pulled from the App Store on Friday. At the time, commentators were left wondering what was wrong with AppGratis’ app. Founder and CEO Simon Dawlat wrote a long blog post explaining the full story.
“AppGratis is very much up and running,” Dawlat said. “The reports of our death are greatly exaggerated,” he continued. While there have been other incidents, the App Store review team never went so far. For example, Apple said in October 2012 that AppGratis was spamming the App Store because it had released different localized apps for each country instead of a single app with multiple localizations. As a reminder, AppGratis helps App Store users discover new apps, provides a short description and makes paid apps free for a day.
The company was surprised when Apple pulled the app over the weekend. The App Store review team approved the iPad app a week ago — AppGratis was about to promote its iPad launch, but it’s now futile. For now, the service will continue to function for existing users. AppGratis’ website and newsletter aren’t affected. But don’t expect to download the app again in the App Store or to get an update notification.
On Monday, AllThingsD reported that Apple banned the app for violating two developer guidelines and not respecting the general philosophy of the App Store.
Dawlat confirms that Apple pulled the app because of the two guidelines:
2.25: 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.
5.6: Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.
This time around, it is much harder to fix the app — Dawlat doesn’t outline possible changes. His announcement is a way to shed light on the issue with Apple, and probably to make the review team change its mind. He promises more announcements soon.
Over the past couple of months, AppGratis made a series of key announcements. In January, it has raised $13.5 million. It crossed the 10 million-user mark in February with apps seeing up to 1 million downloads in a day. And now it has 12 million users.
In other words, AppGratis has grown a lot in a very short period of time. Selected apps now skyrocket to the first ranks of the App Store. Developers then have to share their revenue with AppGratis during and after the deal. Apple could see the service as a way to promote an app in the Top Apps section.
Arguably, it is because AppGratis became big that Apple started looking into it. Yet, the news that AppGratis was pulled from the App Store was very sudden. Dawlat even says in the middle of his post: “and as I’m about to push the ‘publish’ button on this story, I’m still in absolute shock as to what is happening to us.”