AppGratis CEO: The day Apple pulled us from their App Store, ‘I almost fainted’

“I founded AppGratis back in 2008, and have been running it ever since,” Simon Dawlat, AppGratis CEO, writes via the AppGratis blog. “Today, for the first time, my company is dealing with an incredibly difficult moment.”

“A few hours before starting to write this, I landed in São Paulo, Brazil on a visit to our local office here. I turned on my iPhone after an exhausting 12-hour redeye from Paris, only to receive notifications for over 75 missed calls, and a seemingly infinite flow of unread text messages,” Dawlat writes. “I almost fainted.”

“These things only happen when a relative or a friend dies, or gets caught in a terrible accident. I immediately thought that someone in my family had passed away during my flight and couldn’t touch my phone for a few minutes. Scared. Paralyzed. Trying to imagine what the terrible news could be,” Dawlat writes. “But by now Apple has issued an official statement, and the Wall Street Journal has published it. And as you’ve guessed, my friends and relatives are fine. They’re just worried for me now.”

Dawlat writes, “Friday, April 5th was the day Apple decided to pull AppGratis out of the App Store, leaving our 12 million iOS users wondering where one of their favorite apps had gone, my 45 employees wondering if they’d still have a job next week, my partners and investors in shock, and myself with an absolutely crazy situation to deal with, thousands of miles away from our headquarters.”

“I’ve read a lot of comments and media features saying things like ‘R.I.P. AppGratis,” Dawlat writes. “I want to tell these people the reports of our death are greatly exaggerated.”

Much more in the full article here.

John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD, “On Sunday, AppGratis, which promotes paid apps by offering one for free everyday, abruptly vanished from the App Store without explanation or comment from Apple. This, just a week after Cupertino had approved the iPad version of the app. At the time of its disappearance, word on the street had it that Apple banished the app for violation of an App Store Review Guideline clause that states: ‘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.'”

“And that was indeed the case — partially. Apple confirmed to AllThingsD Monday that it removed AppGratis from the App Store for violating clause 2.25,” Paczkowski reports. “But it said that the app also violated clause 5.6: ‘5.6 Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.'”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Apple pulls AppGratis from App Store two months after it raised $13.5 million in funding – April 8, 2013


  1. Which sucks because the search logic in the App Store is horrendous. The lack of simple Boolean operators is horrendous. Say I want to find something by The Jam. That pulls up every single artist named James (James Zbrown, James Taylor, James Gang, etc) which makes finding stuff difficult. The AND Jam OR Paul AND Weller NOT James. Would make life so much better. This applies more so to apps where I want to be able to search by publisher, price, and description.

  2. So, you run an App Store from within the App Store and spam using the owner of the original app store’s server resources and “almost feint” when you learn the app has been pulled… The question shouldn’t have been if it would be pulled but when it would be pulled. This is a result of a terrible business model. You don’t run a business with it hanging over the edge of a cliff.

    1. The main thrust of the App Store is to enable discovery, purchase and download of apps. As long as the outcome is consistent with the main objective why should Apple care how the discovery takes place.

      Will Apple ban all Google searches that point to the App Store? It’s nothing more than an enhanced discovery machine with incentives thrown in. Where’s the harm?

      1. Sorry no. The ‘main thrust’ of the app store is to make Apple insanely rich & powerful. Any and I mean any threat to the real main thrust of the app store invites immediate destruction when detected.

        I know the above sounds harsh but it isn’t.
        I like to think of the fable where the hen and her chicks buy the seeds, plant the seeds, tend the field, harvest the grain, grind the grain into flour, mix the dough, chop the wood for the fire, bake the bread….. and then some azzhat comes by and DEMANDS a piece of toast and then gets pissy and cries like a little bitch when he/she gets told to bugger off. Kind of like a political party that is currently in power.

        Tell me, do you think the primary purpose of commercial television is to entertain its viewers?

  3. Dude does a respectable job of painting himself as a martyr. In fact I do feel bad for his employees.

    He had to know that paid promoting of apps is a no-no in the *Apple* app store, unless you are Apple. He had to know that it was only a matter of time before his app got yanked.

    Lets do a little thought experiment, go into a store, get on a bull-horn and start announcing competitors sale prices. See how long it takes before you are asked to leave, see how long it takes before the jack-booted thugs show up to lay a baton upside your head if you refuse to leave. This is no different.

    From the comments above it sounds like the app has superior search to the App store, so in the regard it is a bummer that they got pulled.

    1. “He had to know that paid promoting of apps is a no-no in the *Apple* app store, unless you are Apple.”

      You can’t pay Apple to get better play of your app on Apple’s app store. Do you know something I don’t?

  4. Why now? How did the app get through the approval process in the first place. Also, it seems to me that a bunch of apps do these very things. How does this hurt Apple? Don’t they still get their 30% commission?

  5. “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” and “Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing of any kind.”

    Good for Apple to have and enforce both of those clauses., especially the last one. It’s common sense things like these that keep me in Apple’s “walled garden.”

    1. I really don’t get this. It seems that the rule is about stopping people from selling things outside of the App Store in a way that looks like the App Store. AppGratis is basically the opposite. It does not look like the App Store, and it directs to download apps from the real App Store. Why is Apple complaining about this? It does nothing but promote the App Store. Another Cook blunder, I’d say.

  6. Well, read and follow the rules, don’t assume you are the exception to the rules. And then don’t act surprised when you are deleted for violating an obvious one.

  7. You have 45 employees for an absolutely useless app like appgratis? Really? Why don’t you fire them all and tell them to go write a book or to do something “creative”. Working at appgratis isn’t creative. Owning appgratis is just pathetic.

    1. Jealous that you didn’t think of it?

      I like AppGratis. I’ve downloaded many good apps for free, and it promoters the App Store and app usage. What could be bad about that?

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