AppGratis CEO Explains App’s Ouster from App Store

appgratisA few days ago, Apple kicked popular iOS discovery service AppGratis’ iOS app from the App Store for sending “promotional” push notifications to users.

Today, the company’s CEO, Simon Dawlat, put up a post on the AppGratis blog giving some more background into what he understandably calls an “absolutely crazy” situation.

He starts by reassuring AppGratis users, investors and employees that the company’s large install base of 12 million users guarantees the survival of the company in the near future. The startup would continue offering its existing users with new deals everyday, just like it did before the ouster.

Dawlat notes that the company’s iOS apps had run into issues with Apple’s review team earlier as well, violating several clauses of the review guidelines, including 2.25, which prohibits apps confusingly similar to the App Store:

[W]e were able to make a strong point on the fact that AppGratis had nothing in common with the App Store. The App Store is a 1M+ hosted app catalog. AppGratis is like a media reviewing one Apple product a day like thousands of other sites, blogs, and apps on this planet – dramatically different mechanics. We got OK-ed on this one, since our app was later approved (and has been live for months).

He adds that just a week ago, all seemed to be fine with the two companies, when Apple approved AppGratis for iPad. A few days after the approval, a different reviewer appeared, and decided to pull AppGratis for violating not only section 2.25, but also 5.6 that disallows the use of push notifications for promotions:

Yet 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.

Dawlat says that by suddenly removing AppGratis from the App Store, Apple’s depriving iOS users of a great way to discover new apps:

And that is pretty much where we stand, still stunned that Apple took the decision to destroy so much value within their own ecosystem, but more than ever convinced that what we’re doing is good, and accomplishing a much needed mission in a broken App Discovery world.

In his whole post, Dawlat didn’t touch upon Apple’s stance on the App Store being a “meritocracy” with no place for paid promotions.

You can read Dawlat’s entire post on the AppGratis blog.

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