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MacRumors
Apr 18, 2013, 09:25 AM
http://images.macrumors.com/im/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/04/18/apple-shuts-down-push-notifications-from-appgratis/)


http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2013/04/appgratis_icon.jpgOver the past ten days, we've been tracking the story of AppGratis (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/04/10/apples-removal-of-appgratis-from-app-store-just-the-first-phase-of-broader-crackdown/), the app discovery service that saw its app pulled from the App Store by Apple as part of the first phase of a broader crackdown on apps that could be confused with the App Store itself or which might be used to game the App Store rankings.

Following the removal of AppGratis from the App Store, CEO Simon Dawlat claimed that the service was "far from finished" and that existing users of the app could continue to receive daily deals while AppGratis works on a solution to the issue.

But as noted by TechCrunch (http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/18/apple-kills-appgratis-push-notifications/), Apple now appears to have used yet another tool in its effort to shut down AppGratis, revoking the existing app's ability to send push notifications to users alerting them of each day's deal.The move was reported earlier by French publication JDN which said AppGratis informed subscribers that Apple had killed notifications in an emailed newsletter. TechCrunch has obtained a copy of the email sent to (Italian) AppGratis subscribers -- the first part of which is embedded below. As well as explaining to subscribers why they haven't received a push notification from the app that morning, it urges them not to panic, and says AppGratis will be launching a daily special offers newsletter to keep them informed about app offers.TechCrunch points to a new blog post (http://appgratis.com/blog/2013/04/18/setting-things-straight-about-the-appgratis-business-model/) from Dawlat outlining plans for AppGratis going forward, including new newsletters and an HTML5 web app to help skirt around Apple's App Store ban.

But while the company may be able to develop some workarounds for its services, it is clear that Apple is committed to shutting down AppGratis for iOS and is not interested in having discussions that could potentially lead to an alternative resolution.

Article Link: Apple Shuts Down Push Notifications From AppGratis (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/04/18/apple-shuts-down-push-notifications-from-appgratis/)



Rudy69
Apr 18, 2013, 09:28 AM
Things are not looking good for AppGratis, Apple declared war and they own the battlefield, they've cut the "supply chain" and if need be can actually delete the app from everyone's iPhone

goobot
Apr 18, 2013, 09:31 AM
Things are not looking good for AppGratis, Apple declared war and they own the battlefield, they've cut the "supply chain" and if need be can actually delete the app from everyone's iPhone

They aren't going to do that, the press would kill apple if they did that.

outphase
Apr 18, 2013, 09:32 AM
I still get AppShopper notifications occasionally. AppGratis must really have pissed off someone in the App Store offices.

lunaoso
Apr 18, 2013, 09:32 AM
Wow Apple is really serious about shutting it down. I suspect we'll see some sort of backlash from AppGratis. I never really got those app discovery apps anyway... That's what the App Store is for IMO.

Squilly
Apr 18, 2013, 09:36 AM
I could see this turning into a lawsuit.

gwelmarten
Apr 18, 2013, 09:36 AM
Things are not looking good for AppGratis, Apple declared war and they own the battlefield, they've cut the "supply chain" and if need be can actually delete the app from everyone's iPhone

I'm not sure Apple are technically able to delete an app from everyone's iPhone :) - maybe stop new installs from iTunes, but not delete.

commander.data
Apr 18, 2013, 09:37 AM
Wasn't Apple rumoured to have an app kill switch to fully disable/delete apps? I wonder if it'll eventually get used against AppGratis? Although, using the kill switch against an app you don't like rather than an active security threat which the kill switch is probably intended for if it does exist would set a very dangerous precedent.

AdeFowler
Apr 18, 2013, 09:37 AM
The App Store should be a totally democratic reflection of what people are buying, not defined by developers who have the deepest pockets. From what Iíve read, AppGratis were charging developers for the equivalent of clicks, thus manipulating an apps ranking. Thatís not good for consumers.

gotluck
Apr 18, 2013, 09:37 AM
Here come the Gestapo

bkonings
Apr 18, 2013, 09:39 AM
Just speculation,

I would presume the way AppGratis is handeling the situation is in violation with the appstore guidelines. Therefor apple might simply have revoked their developer key. A side effect being push-notifications no longer functioning.

All news is coming from AppGratis, not the most nuetral source.
Not that Apple would share any information on the subject.

vjl323
Apr 18, 2013, 09:40 AM
So after AppGratis was kicked out, a few days later, a similar app, AppsFire, received a minor update along with the promise of a larger one coming soon. You would think Apple would be more sensitive to other AppGratis-like apps being updated! Weird. :\

AdeFowler
Apr 18, 2013, 09:43 AM
AppGratis gives developers an estimate of where in Apple's App Store rankings an App can land based on how much the developer is willing to pay, according to a document from the company's pitch that a source in the developer community sent us.
For example, this document shows AppGratis estimates a ~$300,000 buy will land an app in the top five slot in the US version of the App Store.

Source:

http://www.businessinsider.com/app-gratis-used-lure-of-app-store-rankings-to-attract-developers-2013-4

Stella
Apr 18, 2013, 09:46 AM
Email notifications and WebApps are out the reach of Apple.

I'm wondering why Apple don't pull all similar apps?

AQUADock
Apr 18, 2013, 09:50 AM
Email notifications and WebApps are out the reach of Apple.

I'm wondering why Apple don't pull all similar apps?

I think it was because AppGratis was doing some shady behavior like manipulating app rankings while others have not.

litmag01
Apr 18, 2013, 09:55 AM
I think it was because AppGratis was doing some shady behavior like manipulating app rankings while others have not.

I agree. There is definitly something else going on here. This is unusual behavior (although not unheard of) for Apple. App Gratis was probably doing some very "special" activities.

Stella
Apr 18, 2013, 09:59 AM
I think it was because AppGratis was doing some shady behavior like manipulating app rankings while others have not.

Thanks - I thought others did similar too - such as App of the Day, although I know Appshopper didn't - but that still got pulled.

litmag01
Apr 18, 2013, 10:02 AM
Here come the Gestapo

Creepy hyprbole.

econgeek
Apr 18, 2013, 10:19 AM
I could see this turning into a lawsuit.

What is AppGratis going to sue Apple for? That Apple stopped their fraud?

Remember, this is a company that was gaming the ranking system by pushing crap apps to the top of the charts and charging the developers a lot of money for the service.

This activity was against apple's rules for well over a year before Apple took action.

Now its time to get rid of AppsFire too.

jjrtiger
Apr 18, 2013, 10:19 AM
As well as explaining to subscribers why they haven't received a push notification from the app that morning, it urges them not to panic, and says AppGratis will be launching a daily special offers newsletter to keep them informed about app offers.

panic...really?! it's an app recommendation. come on.

econgeek
Apr 18, 2013, 10:20 AM
So after AppGratis was kicked out, a few days later, a similar app, AppsFire, received a minor update along with the promise of a larger one coming soon. You would think Apple would be more sensitive to other AppGratis-like apps being updated! Weird. :\

I can certify that AppsFire is engaging in the same business practices... they wanted to charge $5,000 for our App to even *appear* in their apps.

mabhatter
Apr 18, 2013, 10:39 AM
Wow Apple is really serious about shutting it down. I suspect we'll see some sort of backlash from AppGratis. I never really got those app discovery apps anyway... That's what the App Store is for IMO.

The App Store is not good unless you want what's for sale this week. The "Genius" feature is totally junk. If you select "not interested" it doesn't even show a replacement right away, and often keeps sending the same "suggestions" no matter how many times I ask for NEW ones.

About the only discovery is buying more apps from like developers, or looking at "customers also bought" which is almost exclusively top ten list material.

For a counter example I've been going to TouchArcade lately, because while iTunes only let's you search for "RPGs" their REVIEWERS will give guidance if you like Game A you will love game B or you won't like Game C even though its the same category.

iTunes does nothing with what games you have loaded on your iPhone now, versus what you play more often or anything... iTunes music Genius is a psychic by comparison.

lunaoso
Apr 18, 2013, 10:48 AM
The App Store is not good unless you want what's for sale this week. The "Genius" feature is totally junk. If you select "not interested" it doesn't even show a replacement right away, and often keeps sending the same "suggestions" no matter how many times I ask for NEW ones.

About the only discovery is buying more apps from like developers, or looking at "customers also bought" which is almost exclusively top ten list material.

For a counter example I've been going to TouchArcade lately, because while iTunes only let's you search for "RPGs" their REVIEWERS will give guidance if you like Game A you will love game B or you won't like Game C even though its the same category.

iTunes does nothing with what games you have loaded on your iPhone now, versus what you play more often or anything... iTunes music Genius is a psychic by comparison.

The App Store isn't great at app discovery, but in my experiences it does better than apps like AppGratis or appshopper. But tbh it's been awhile since I've used an app like that. The UIs always seemed clunky to me.

iGrip
Apr 18, 2013, 10:57 AM
Kudos to Apple. Why should people be allowed to use the apps they like on Apple's phones? That is like totally backwards.


/s

Mr.damien
Apr 18, 2013, 10:57 AM
http://tinyurl.com/brsg8ps
who's laughing now ?

babyj
Apr 18, 2013, 11:11 AM
AppGratis gives developers an estimate of where in Apple's App Store rankings an App can land based on how much the developer is willing to pay, according to a document from the company's pitch that a source in the developer community sent us.
For example, this document shows AppGratis estimates a ~$300,000 buy will land an app in the top five slot in the US version of the App Store.

Source:

http://www.businessinsider.com/app-gratis-used-lure-of-app-store-rankings-to-attract-developers-2013-4

I'm still not sure what they were doing that was wrong.

Weren't they simply selling advertisement space in their app? How is it different to any of the other advertising programmes, such as iAds?

The $300k wasn't buying a top five slot, it was paying for enough click through downloads to get an app to a top five slot. Again, how is that really any different to other advertisement programmes?

I'm not trying to defend them, just trying to figure out what the problem was.

Mike777
Apr 18, 2013, 11:42 AM
The problem is simple:

If you have thousands of dollars, you can drive and keep an app like Candy Crush Saga at the top of the freemium charts and make millions (money to make money)

While everyone who can't afford placement in FAAD / this / other botfarm techniques, slip out of sight.

Basically it's the rich always getting richer. And guess what? you're all sucking it up... nom nom nom! iAP baby! nom nom nom!

Stupid. All these chart manipulation techniques should be banned outright, for a level playing field or you'll find indies eventually stop caring about making fun games and just join the iAP herd out to nickel and dime you for every cent you've got.

Stop being so blind.


Since when did an app cease being judged on it's own merit and start being judged on how much fake chart it's managed to get?

I hope AppGratis, FAAD and botfarms die a horrible death so that a democratic and level playing field for apps can exist. It's so manipulated that even well known apps like [deleted] have resorted to botfarms. And they're harder than ever to trace now.

Apple can trace them - it simply tracks what apps were actually used. Funnily enough most of the apps weren't used on the way up to top 10. They were simply downloaded. Makes you think.

ArtOfWarfare
Apr 18, 2013, 11:42 AM
I'm still not sure what they were doing that was wrong.

Weren't they simply selling advertisement space in their app? How is it different to any of the other advertising programmes, such as iAds?

The $300k wasn't buying a top five slot, it was paying for enough click through downloads to get an app to a top five slot. Again, how is that really any different to other advertisement programmes?

I'm not trying to defend them, just trying to figure out what the problem was.

They were utilizing bots in addition to advertisements. Pay them $300K and you'll get a prominent spot in their app + they'll buy several thousand copies of your app using their bots using a portion of that money you paid them - enough that your app will end up in the top 5 slot no matter how crappy it is.

I imagine they'll continue using the same techniques when they're just a web app - they'll probably be charging more for it though, because they won't be subsidized by the ads as much (for every user that buys your app on account of an ad, it's another few cents they don't need to give a bot to buy your app.)

No Pain No Gain
Apr 18, 2013, 11:43 AM
I'm still not sure what they were doing that was wrong.

Weren't they simply selling advertisement space in their app? How is it different to any of the other advertising programmes, such as iAds?

The $300k wasn't buying a top five slot, it was paying for enough click through downloads to get an app to a top five slot. Again, how is that really any different to other advertisement programmes?

I'm not trying to defend them, just trying to figure out what the problem was.


Say 1 000 000 users download app gratis app, then next day they all receive notifications that some app is free and all download that app. App gets 1 000 000 downloads in one day.

Robert.Walter
Apr 18, 2013, 12:57 PM
Now if they would kick out all those apps like candy crunch saga and defender of terramon which are hijacking JavaScript on sites in order to redirect users to the App Store to drive sales!

lolkthxbai
Apr 18, 2013, 01:02 PM
I could see this turning into a lawsuit.

Alright! Just what we needed! Another lawsuit!

OtherJesus
Apr 18, 2013, 01:06 PM
AppGratis claims they did nothing wrong and they claim no funny business...

Apparently Apple have evidence to the contrary.

babyj
Apr 18, 2013, 01:27 PM
They were utilizing bots in addition to advertisements. Pay them $300K and you'll get a prominent spot in their app + they'll buy several thousand copies of your app using their bots using a portion of that money you paid them - enough that your app will end up in the top 5 slot no matter how crappy it is.

If they were doing that and it is an if. Think there was a comment they did it in the early days but had put a stop to it and now it was purely human click throughs from ads.

Say 1 000 000 users download app gratis app, then next day they all receive notifications that some app is free and all download that app. App gets 1 000 000 downloads in one day.

Didn't read any suggestion they were charging for app of the day placement, the charges appear limited to advertisements.

AppGratis claims they did nothing wrong and they claim no funny business...

Apparently Apple have evidence to the contrary.

Reckon this is the most likely case - Apple got some damning evidence of dodgy practices but have chosen not to publish details. Though I'm sure they will if Appgratis keep up their "we did no wrong" campaign.

Steve.P.JobsFan
Apr 18, 2013, 02:00 PM
>MFW

http://s23.postimg.org/txdvdsc2j/scumbag_apple.png


Scumbag Apple.

MagnusVonMagnum
Apr 18, 2013, 03:04 PM
Things are not looking good for AppGratis, Apple declared war and they own the battlefield, they've cut the "supply chain" and if need be can actually delete the app from everyone's iPhone

It just goes to prove what a bunch of pricks are running Apple these days. Power has gone to their heads. Money is their new god now that Steve is dead and if they continue to piss users off, they will watch their stock continue to plummet down down down.....

Robert.Walter
Apr 18, 2013, 03:18 PM
It could be scammy practices on the part of app vendors, or it could be something else...

Maybe Apple's idea of offering up free apps is a "loss leader" strategy which requires customers to enter the store and browse a bit before they actually "buy" the free app...

If there is a service telling the customer what app is free, then those customers that are not interested in the announced app just skip going to the store that day and apple loses traffic in the store that day.

No traffic in the store, is guaranteed fewer add on sales, so this could be the reason for the ban hammer.

No service announcing what is free, customers must enter store and while looking for the give away, end up buying something else. Win for apple.

BC2009
Apr 18, 2013, 04:18 PM
I don't think this shutdown was really worth the trouble it may cause Apple in the future with respect to lawsuits and such.

After all, you had to actually install AppGratis on your iPhone. Then, if you did, you would have had to allow it to send you push notifications. Even if you did that you still had the options to shut off push notifications for AppGratis or remove the app.

Is Apple trying to protect users who don't understand how to remove an app or shut off push notifications for an app?

I don't understand what the problem is for Apple. I totally agree that abusing push notifications sucks and that AppGratis was a worthless app to begin with, but why does Apple need to even bother with this fight?

I'm guessing that AppGratis was warned about their push notifications being direct sales marketing several times and somebody at Apple just got fed up. Either that or AppGratis did something to piss Apple off.

----------

I'm still not sure what they were doing that was wrong.

Weren't they simply selling advertisement space in their app? How is it different to any of the other advertising programmes, such as iAds?

The $300k wasn't buying a top five slot, it was paying for enough click through downloads to get an app to a top five slot. Again, how is that really any different to other advertisement programmes?

I'm not trying to defend them, just trying to figure out what the problem was.

Maybe it was the fact that they were using push notifications for advertising when the app was not running and Apple expects developers to use iAd for advertising so Apple actually gets their cut. Using push notifications is making use of Apple's servers without actually giving Apple any revenue. Maybe that was the problem.

sillypooh
Apr 18, 2013, 04:36 PM
Apple have those rules. I actually respect them for this kind of principle and i think this is why the app store works well. AppGratis were pushing their luck not abiding to those two specific rules and any shock from their part is not genuine. Yet this app should not have been allowed in the first place.

.Asa
Apr 18, 2013, 07:25 PM
I think I have this figured out:

An apple app reviewer guy was running late to work, and then he hits a red light. An app gratis employee is in the car on front of him. The light turns green, but the app gratis employee doesn't notice cause he's texting. The apple employee gets really mad. He shows up at work fifteen minutes late, when his boss asks for an explanation, he blames it on the app gratis guy, and then he pulls app gratis from the App Store to get revenge.

charlituna
Apr 18, 2013, 07:49 PM
The App Store isn't great at app discovery, but in my experiences it does better than apps like AppGratis or appshopper. But tbh it's been awhile since I've used an app like that. The UIs always seemed clunky to me.

I would say that there are two things from these type of apps that the official store needs.

1. A button for seeing on sale apps.
2. Wish list access to add/edit your list and alerts when something on your list gets marked down or even updated (an update might make a wish into a buy)

Consistent keywords, eliminating description spamming etc would also be in order

Prodo123
Apr 18, 2013, 11:36 PM
I could see this turning into a lawsuit.

With a swift loss to AppGratis for trying to force their way into a store in which they blatantly object the terms and conditions to.

marksman
Apr 19, 2013, 02:36 AM
I'm not sure Apple are technically able to delete an app from everyone's iPhone :) - maybe stop new installs from iTunes, but not delete.

They have the ability to remove an app from all phones if they want but it is reserved for emergency circumstances.

misteroo
Apr 19, 2013, 03:35 AM
I can certify that AppsFire is engaging in the same business practices... they wanted to charge $5,000 for our App to even *appear* in their apps.

Econgeek... your statement is wrong and inaccurate. Appsfire never charges for the recommendation section in the app.

Our recommendations are made only based on quality through an algorythm and not paid placement as you imply here! We feature every day hundreds and sometimes thousands of apps for free. Possibly even "econgeek" app [if of course, the quality is good enough...]

Actually we pride ourself in having a very clear separation between ads and recommendations. Just like Google or any newspaper. Ads are disclosed and placed in distinct locations: like any respectable media.

Once a day maximum we do highlight one app out of the recommended section and we do charge for this promotion (pricing varies based on country but starts much lower than that). This is a premium placement and there is no "manipulation" or "confusion" that is possible.

It is hazardous to make such statements.


Ouriel Ohayon
Appsfire CEO

ylechelle
Apr 19, 2013, 03:36 AM
I can certify that AppsFire is engaging in the same business practices... they wanted to charge $5,000 for our App to even *appear* in their apps.

If you can read French, then I highly recommend that you read my interview here: http://www.ecranmobile.fr/Yann-Lechelle-Appsfire-Pour-exister-comme-app-de-recommandation-il-faut-promouvoir-les-installations-volontaires_a48972.html

The ecosystem is filled with various value propositions at the end-user and at the business level. Not all fit in the same bag. It's not that simple.

Your comment above is a loaded gun, 3 times over: "certify", "same", "even". Together, and alone, these 3 words invalidate your statement. Please allow me to elaborate.

First and foremost, Appsfire is a pure algorithmic app discovery experience. No business transaction involved in the streams that we display in the main screen. A user may have many streams, based on interests, price sensitivity, etc... We float the very best apps based on a technology that we developed called the App Score, a note between 0 and 100 that tries to summarize the true value of an app (think of it as a rotten tomatoes or metascore for movies). We dig deep in the 800,000+ apps to show the most interesting ones, but the built-in search engine lets you search for any and ALL apps. So econgeek's app may very well appear if searched, and better yet, be shown in priority if it's any good.

How do we make a living? Well, we run advertising in our app! It's clearly marked and shows in two places: the splash page at launch, once a day, that shows the PROMOTED APP OF THE DAY (clearly marked as such), and then as a thin banner at the top of the main screen (again, clearly marked, and not part of the algorithmic recommendations). Yes, buying that spot is a commercial service, like buying a page in the New York Times!!! And it doesn't come cheap because we have a large audience (well, not like the NYTimes, but hey, it's cheaper than an ad in the NYTimes too!!!).

"same" business practices? Nope. Not same pricing model. Not same promises. Plain ol' advertising model, transparent, with proper attribution.

Convinced yet?

Note: simultaneous reply by Ouriel above ;-)

gnasher729
Apr 19, 2013, 04:13 AM
Things are not looking good for AppGratis, Apple declared war and they own the battlefield, they've cut the "supply chain" and if need be can actually delete the app from everyone's iPhone

Deleting an app from people's iOS devices is possible for Apple, but would be an awfully bad move except in cases where it is known that the app hurts the user and Apple would be negligent leaving it there.

JosephAW
Apr 19, 2013, 07:20 AM
Just use a 3rd party push service like boxcar.
They work great for all my custom push messages.

gwelmarten
Apr 19, 2013, 09:21 AM
They have the ability to remove an app from all phones if they want but it is reserved for emergency circumstances.

Where does this come from? I've never heard of it, and I'd guess I should have from my position.

unlinked
Apr 20, 2013, 08:19 AM
AppGratis claims they did nothing wrong and they claim no funny business...

Apparently Apple have evidence to the contrary.

Where have Apple said that?

----------

The App Store should be a totally democratic reflection of what people are buying, not defined by developers who have the deepest pockets.

I don't see how that is possible unless Apple ban advertising apps.

Cougarcat
Apr 20, 2013, 01:35 PM
So why was AppShopper pulled? As far as I know it wasn't doing anything nefarious.

gazonk
Apr 22, 2013, 03:56 AM
Now if they would kick out all those apps like candy crunch saga and defender of terramon which are hijacking JavaScript on sites in order to redirect users to the App Store to drive sales!

+1!! Apple should kick king.com and their Candy Crunch Saga out of the App Store when they advertise through hijacking in this way. It leaves the affected web pages unreadable. IMHO it's computer crime - using a weakness in the API for their own "good" ("good" since I would be surprised if annoying the user like this would bring anything but bad publicity. Who wants to give money to a beggar that rips the newspaper you're reading out of your hands in order to get your attention?)

Nightarchaon
Apr 22, 2013, 04:06 AM
Wow Apple is really serious about shutting it down. I suspect we'll see some sort of backlash from AppGratis. I never really got those app discovery apps anyway... That's what the App Store is for IMO.

The AppStore itself is awful for app discovery and browsing, you get the "paid" to float to the top "recommended" apps and thats about it, Usually i read reviews of apps, or google which apps do a job then get the app name and then Finally fire up the app store on the iPhone/iPad and search for the one app i want by name.