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Apple Shuts Down Push Notifications From AppGratis

appgratis_iconOver the past ten days, we've been tracking the story of AppGratis, 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, 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 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.

Top Rated Comments

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Posted: 17 months ago
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 I’ve read, AppGratis were charging developers for the equivalent of clicks, thus manipulating an apps ranking. That’s not good for consumers.
Rating: 12 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago
I still get AppShopper notifications occasionally. AppGratis must really have pissed off someone in the App Store offices.
Rating: 10 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago

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.
Rating: 7 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago
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.
Rating: 7 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago

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.
Rating: 5 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago

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.
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago

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.
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago
I could see this turning into a lawsuit.
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago

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.)
Rating: 3 Votes
Posted: 17 months ago
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.

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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.
Rating: 3 Votes

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