Apple pulled a very popular app called AppGratis from the App Store this weekend, claiming it violates two clauses in the terms all developers must follow.
AppGratis helps users discover new apps and provides direct links to download them. It also offers one paid app for free each day. Apple said it removed AppGratis because apps are not allowed to promote other apps for purchase or use push notifications for advertising or direct marketing.
Today, AppGratis CEO Simon Dawlat responded to Apple’s move in a lengthy blog post on his company’s site. In the post, Dawlat provides a detailed history of his company’s relationship with Apple, including details on how two Apple representatives originally worked with AppGratis to approve the app.
The kicker: The Dawlat posted an email from Apple that approved AppGratis’ iPad version just a week ago.
Here it is:
AppGratisBut that didn’t matter.
Shortly after the iPad app was approved, Dawlat said a different Apple representative contacted the AppGratis team with news that AppGratis was about to be pulled from the App Store. Dawlat said this new representative couldn’t give a reason as to why Apple changed its mind beyond reciting the terms from the App Store guidelines.
So, there’s a big disconnect between Apple’s written policy and the way it enforces it. It’s also reminiscent of the snafu a few months ago when a lot of pornographic content appeared on Twitter’s new video-sharing app Vine. Apple wouldn’t pull Vine, yet it has a history of pulling other photo and video apps with pornographic content.
And AppGratis isn’t the only app guilty of using push notifications for direct marketing. There are plenty of apps similar to AppGratis like Appsfire that are still available in Apple’s App Store. Plus Facebook’s app sends users a notification prompting them to buy a gift for friends’ birthdays.
For example, here’s a push notification we got from Facebook last week:
We asked Apple for comment, but a representative wouldn’t say anything beyond confirming AppGratis was removed from the App Store for violating Apple’s guidelines.