iOS app discovery service AppGratis has disappeared from Apple’s App Store, possibly a victim of the recently instituted restriction on apps that display other apps in a manner similar to the way the App Store does.
Back in October, Apple added a new rule in its iOS developer guidelines. It reads: “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.” As a reminder, AppGratis curates apps from the App Store, provides a short description and make paid apps free for a day.
At that time AppGratis CEO Simon Dawlat speculated that Apple was going after low-quality copycat apps, not AppGratis. AppGratis works with independent app developers to allow discovery of their apps via revenue-sharing deals.
Other apps similar to AppGratis have also been affected by the new guidelines. AppShopper was removed from the App Store, and has not as yet returned. AppShopper’s way of searching the App Store competed directly with Apple’s methods, and users could also be alerted when a particular app was on sale.
There are many possible reasons AppGratis was removed, perhaps a private API was in use by the app, or it breaks some other guideline and Apple is waiting for an updated version to be submitted before restoring it to the App Store.
AppGratis raised $13.5 million in funding back in January. The app has 7 million users, (the writer of this article among them), and has shown the ability to lead up to 500,000 downloads for a single app.
AppGratis nor Apple have commented on the removal of the app, and while the app has been removed form the App Store, existing users can still use the AppGratis app. We’ll keep you posted on the fate of the app.
Apple has confirmed to AllThingsD that it removed AppGratis from the App Store for not only violating clause 2.25 as mentioned above, but also for a violation of clause 5.6, which reads:
Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.
While Apple declined to comment any further, sources close to the company told AllThingsD that it was troubled that AppGratis’ business model seemed to favor developers with financial means to pay for exposure.
So it seems that Apple is fine with app-discovery platforms as long as they are not built on paid recommendations.