AppGratis On Why Its App Was Pulled: Apple Changed Its Mind Overnight

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AppGratis is a cautionary tale on building your business on Apple’s back.

AppGratis is a popular App Store app that’s used by more than 12 million iOS users. The company consists of 45 employees and recently raised $13.5 million in funding. AppGratis offers promotions and discounts for popular paid iOS apps in conjunction with third-party developers, and the company has continued to thrive over the last few years.

Everything was going great until Apple threw down the hammer over this past weekend. Without much warning, AppGratis was suddenly pulled from the App Store for violating some developer guidelines. Poof. Gone. Now it’s a matter of working with Apple to try and fix what caused the problem. The app’s removal came as a shock to AppGratis and has left the CEO wondering how the App Store review team “could have possibly changed their minds overnight.”

AppGratis CEO Simon Dawlat wrote a blog post explaining the situation today:

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.

The app continues to remain operational for users who already have it installed, but it can’t be downloaded from the App Store until AppGratis is back in Apple’s good graces. Apple oddly approved an iPad version only a few days before it was pulled.

Apple removed AppGratis because it was self-promoting with a “Today’s deal is here!” message each day via push notifications. The app also violated a guideline related to offering and promoting apps in a similar way to the App Store.

Dawlat said that he has been in contact with who pulled the app, a newer member of Apple’s App Store review team. “He seemed very detached regarding the gravity of the situation, and was unable to let me know on what specifics these decisions had been made.”

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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