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Why AppGratis Was Pulled From the App Store 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the stories-that-will-fit-your-preconceived-notions dept.
RougeFemme writes "By now, you may know that AppGratis, a popular app discovery app, was recently pulled from the App store. Apple listed violations of the following 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.' Now, the company's CEO, Simon Dawlat, has made a blog post with 'the rest of the story.'" As it turns out, AppGratis had been cleared by Apple for guideline 2.25 as recently as October, and its iPad version was approved less than a week ago. The brand new Apple review team member who contacted the company isn't able to explain what went into the decision to ban it now. Dalwat says the complaint about guideline 5.6 was 'another surprise for us since we only send one "system notification" a day to our users, coming in the form of a generic, opt-in only "Today’s deal is here!" message, which is precisely how Apple recommends developers to use its push notification service.'" However, the AllThingsD article cites sources claiming Apple was "more than a little troubled that AppGratis was pushing a business model that appeared to favor developers with the financial means to pay for exposure." Dalwat does not address this in his post.
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Why AppGratis Was Pulled From the App Store

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @04:31PM (#43405795)

    Die by the walled garden.

    Develop open source if you don't want your hard work to live entirely at the whims of someone else, whose interests probably don't align with yours. All the worse if you put all your proverbial eggs in this basket, grew a bit, and had the carpet pulled out from under you (a 45-person company in this case).

    I feel sorry for these guys, but the problem is the walled-garden ecosystems which are - unfortunately - proliferating instead of dying out.

    They'll all die out eventually.

  • by TWX (665546) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @04:34PM (#43405831)

    Apple was "more than a little troubled that AppGratis was pushing a business model that appeared to favor developers with the financial means to pay for exposure.

    As opposed to their somehow having managed to con local news into covering every stinking Apple Store opening even though retailers and service centers throughout Apple's history have provided the exact same services that the Apple Store provides, for the same price?

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @04:40PM (#43405877)
    It is really simple to see what the problem was, if developers had money to pay to AppGratis to promote their app, they should instead be giving that money to Apple.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @04:56PM (#43406061)

    Read the article... they had issues in the past, over-came them and believed to be in good standing, then they got pulled again.

    It seems quite obvious that their app was very borderline, so getting pulled should not come as a surprise to them or anyone. There's also a small point in the guidelines that says "complaining about a rejection in public doesn't improve your chances of getting allowed back". In the end, iOS users will be able to survive without an app that makes purchase suggestions according to how much money they were paid.

  • by IronMagnus (777535) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @04:59PM (#43406087)
    No, I believe it should come as a surprise when you've been working with Apple Representatives, had an update approved by their review process, then have it pulled less than a week later. If apple wants quality apps in their store, they need to act in a predictable manner that businesses can work with.
  • by Minter92 (148860) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @05:14PM (#43406211)

    Closed systems are bad um ok

    So if open is so much better for developers, then why are iOS developers making 75% of the revenues from mobile app downloads?

    http://www.canalys.com/newsroom/11-quarterly-growth-downloads-leading-app-stores [canalys.com]

    Money != morality

  • then why are iOS developers making 75% of the revenues from mobile app downloads?

    The article you linked states that though Apple had the lion's share of revenue from priced applications, Google Play Store had more total downloads, paid and free, than downloads from Apple, Microsoft, and RIM stores combined. (Conspicuous by its absence from the article is Amazon, but that's beside my point.)

    Let me take a guess as to why Google wins downloads while Apple wins revenue. Apple never launched the iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad in a given country without support for iTunes payment. Google, on the other hand, chose to allow sales of devices with Android Market (now Play) in some countries to which it hadn't yet launched Checkout (now Wallet). To reach customers in those countries, developers had to make their applications available without charge and recoup their expenses through advertising. This set up an expectation among Android users that applications would have an ad-supported version. Didn't Rovio claim to earn more from advertisements in ad-supported versions of Angry Birds than from sale of priced versions?

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @06:07PM (#43406827)

    AppGratis is an app where developers pay money for getting their app in the Top 100 rankings and such. You pay them somewhere between 4k and tens of thousands of dollars, then you set your app to FREE for a day they tell you and the send a message to a certain number of users in order to get you pushed to the ranking you paid for on Apple's lists. Some of these users aren't actual users, just accounts used to inflate the rankings.

    This is the absolute scummiest type of 'marketing' in existence without flat out lying. Its manipulation of the system for financial gain based on bribes. Apple banning them is a GOOD THING. Might as well be Payola. Apple doesn't want their rankings or their users tainted by scummy advertising scams.

    Walled garden or not, you don't want this type of app or system to exist. Put down your apple pitch fork long enough to see the bigger picture.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @06:11PM (#43406871)

    What world do you live in that makes sense?

    You're arguing that Apple is petty for telling you that throwing a petty temper tantrum in public won't help you?

    Seriously?

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @06:27PM (#43407011)

    The app basically allows you to pay between $4k and tens of thousands of dollars to 'buy' a slot in the apple top downloads rankings for a day.

    You give AppGratis 10K, and they tell you to put your app to $0 on next tuesday. Come tuesday you do your part, they notify a bunch of accounts (some real, some fake) about your app, these accounts then go download your free app, you climb up to number 80 on Apples charts for the day. The next day you put your price back up to something non-zero and hope that word of mouth and visibility give you an increased sales rate.

    THAT is the problem. Its manipulating the market numbers based on who pays the most. It's buying a spot on the rankings that people think are generated by some form of actual popularity. Its a lie.

    You would be pissed if Apple said '$100k gets you #1 app for a day, sign up here!' wouldn't you?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @07:51PM (#43407595)

    If apple wants quality apps in their store, they need to act in a predictable manner that businesses can work with.

    Cool story bro. Except that compared to the Play store and Amazon stores, the average quality in the Apple store is higher. We may hate it as geeks, but average users don't. So they're doing something right, even if it keeps me off their products.

  • Re:Plain-text EULA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @10:52PM (#43408671)

    And now, GirlinTraining Eats an Apple Fanboy, Except For The Core Of Course ...

    Wow, I can see you simply don't live in the real world, and you accuse Apple users of being affected by the RDF.

    I accused them of adhering to their mission statement, as filed with the Securities Exchange Commission.

    I see you left of payment processing and support, but those are zero costs of course.

    Considering that the developers only get paid when their balance reaches a certain threshold or a certain amount of time has elapsed, yeah, practically zero.

    It doesn't cost you anything to support your customers or handle payments.

    One of these things is not like the other. Can you spot it?

    As to "renting space in a data center", I imagine you know Apple's needs better than them, but they decided to actually *build* data centres of their own.

    Actually, I don't. But I do know them better than you [gigaom.com] apparently do. The app store alone brings in six billion a year. Go look it up, I'll wait. The data center, equipment, land, everything, cost 1/6th of that. New. From scratch. Obviously, day to day costs would be lower. A lot lower. You may remember another company that has a very large data center: It's called Google, and as I understand it, they're one of the biggest companies on the planet and they don't charge or take a cut of your website's fees to operate. Their profit margins aren't exactly... tiny. So margins for Apple here are huge. Massively huge. Triple digit huge. And with a six billion dollar market, we're talking holy-fuck I just won the lottery huge payout. Which of course, I know, and Apple knows, but you apparently, did not know. I ascribe this to the fact that you only read about technology on forum websites like slashdot, instead of busying yourself with inventing them, as I do. And possibly having not taken macroeconomics yet.

    My point about Apple's financial statements was not that fraud never happens../

    Back pedal any harder and you may solve the energy crisis. No, you said fraud is a serious crime and implied that any alleged impropriety that Apple could be accused of was likely false, because said fraud is rare. I responded with common-knowledge news events that stamped this with a giant "Bullshit" in 9 foot tall lettering.

    Also, I find it amusing that you consider the $99 annual fee to not only be "hidden" (seriously, wtf?) but that it is somehow crippling.

    Well, if your math skills didn't suck so hard they were in danger of creating an event horizon from which no clue can escape, you'd realize that $100 from a developer that's making less than $3,000 in the majority of the cases means Apple's cut from this alone is over 3%. That "Apple only takes 30%" is white-washed Grade A marketing bullshit. It takes more. In fact, when you add it all up, they take about as much as the recording industries do from their artists. Which, big surprise, since it's the same business model, but just has a trendy hipster icon plastered across the front.

    - the clear indication here is that hobbyist developers are actually finding success on the store.

    Your definition of success would be "made more than nothing." My definition of success is somewhat more mature, and reasonable: Makes enough to live on. When you get out of mom's basement, I suspect your definition of success will be less based on the brand of toys you own and more on your ability to get food into your mouth.

    What are the earnings of those same group of sub-3k developers on Android, for example? Or simply those releasing software for any platform via their own distribution method.

    We weren't discussing

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