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April 19, 2013

AppGratis Removes Push Notifications, Limits User Awareness of App Developments

By Jerry Biolchini, TMCnet Contributing Writer

AppGratis, an app that helped users find new apps while helping developers promote their products, was dealt a death knell today by Apple (News - Alert). 

The program, which just a few days ago had been removed from the App Store, has had its push notifications shut off, and the effect is twofold. First, no new users can be brought into AppGratis’ user base, and now current users cannot get instant notifications when deals are ready.

App discovery is a problem. Users of smartphones know well the trouble when finding just the right app, or that next big thing. AppGratis has sought to solve this problem. AppGratis is an app that offers a daily deal to its 12 million users.  

Some call AppGratis advertising, since it is a pay for service, but AppGratis insists its sole intention is to promote apps for users to see. In addition to advertising, the company promoted apps that were not solicited, but picked from the company’s editors. This most likely contributes to blurring of the line between discovery and promotion.

Its removal from the App Store caused controversy within the app community. Two clauses were cited as reasons for AppGratis removal, relating to third-party app promotions and using push notification for direct marketing.

It’s been speculated that AppGratis was removed for being too similar to Apple’s own iAds service.

AppGratis has taken the defensive with a recent blog post explaining its business model, and how it sees itself as an app discovery service, and not gaming the statistics of any app store. 

However, many developers have expressed frustration at getting their app to the top 10 lists or showcased on the App Store. Those positions are coveted for their potential for huge sales but Apple takes artificial inflation of apps statistics seriously. In the past, Apple has banned applications for using services that review and promote the app within the App Store.

At best, AppGratis blurs the line between adverting, which leads to higher placement in the App Store, and discovery.

Free services like GetApplr for iOS users and Androlib for Android (News - Alert) phones mimic social networking features to share and discover apps among like-minded individuals. Sites like these make a tough case for the company.

Edited by Braden Becker
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