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AppGratis, the French app promotion and discovery platform startup that was recently ejected from the App Store on the grounds that it violated two of Apple’s iOS Guidelines, said that contrary to some reports on the web, it has never run a “bot network” or “done anything shady in order to grow,” according to a statement made on its website by CEO Simon Dawlat.

“I will also use this post to clarify once and for all the delusional accusations about AppGratis allegedly running a “bot network.” These accusations came from one single person. This person went to TechCrunch. TechCrunch bought the story and published it. It started spreading. Our lawyers acted rapidly and obtained a formal and written apology letter, that you can find here,” Dawlat said.

AppGratis was kicked out of the Apple App Store for allegedly violating two App Store Review Guidelines including 2.25 that states “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.”  Many argue that a number of other “Appfinding” programs that exist in the app store haven’t been under the same kind of scrutiny as AppGratis, including App-O-Day and AppsHawk.  Even Facebook, arguably, is an “Appfinding” program because it has App Center, where it prominently displays well-designed apps and doesn’t list apps that receive poor ratings.  The popularity of app discovery programs has grown as users look for guidance to find and discover apps in a store that now boasts more than 800,000 apps to choose from.

Apple is also reportedly upset that AppGratis’s business models appears to favor developers that have the financial means to pay for exposure.  But AppGratis said that its business model is fair and rock solid and it earns its money from advertisers with freemium apps.

AppGratis said that in 2010 it began experimenting with offering in -app deals (labeling them “sponsored”) to its users, where the client would unlock an in-app purchase for a set time and then AppGratis would feature it.  AppGratis said it continued to do this until Apple declared that developers should not pay for guaranteed Top 25 placements.  Then, AppGratis said it introduced a new pricing structure where media buyers could buy traffic with them on a “Cost-Per-Install” basis.

“Since the App Store algorithm relies mostly on download velocity, it’s simple math to buy your way to the top of the charts by purchasing the numbers of installs you need combining multiple vendors. It’s the most common marketing strategy in the market today, and at the end of the day, it’s just regular advertising,” Dawlat said.

AppGratis said it would provide clients with spreadsheets as a forecasting guide.  One of those spreadsheets was “leaked” to Business Insider, which accused AppGratis of gaming the system by using the lure of the app store rankings to attract cash from developers.  AppGratis said that the spreadsheets were used for forecasting and guidance purposes only.

“People have ‘accused us’ of gaming the top. But the reality is that with or without the ‘rankings,’ our community will still drive millions of installs for the apps we feature. Independently from the App Store. We have never based our business on ranking exposure, because we’ve always expected Apple to chime in at some point, and change that,” Dawlat said.

AppGratis is protesting its ban from the App Store by petitioning its users to send supportive emails on its behalf.  The petition has garnered close to one million emails so far.


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