This blog post was written by Howie Chan, Business Analyst at TechAlliance.
Not every app business model is the right model for Apple’s App Store. Last week, Apple pulled AppGratis from the App Store for breaching its iOS Guidelines. What did AppGratis violate and what does this mean for startup mobile app companies moving forward?
AppGratis is a mobile app recommendation tool. It allows users to discover apps that are available on the App Store and allows developers to advertise their apps to a very captive and active user base. Headquartered in Paris, AppGratis launched in 2010, raised $13.5M in January 2013, and has $1M in monthly revenues and 40 employees.
So what did AppGratis do wrong? According to Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, AppGratis breached two specific clauses:
- 2.25: “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”
- 5.6: “Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions or direct marketing of any kind.”
We’ve seen this before; last year, AppShopper was also removed for violating clause 2.25. John Paczkowski from All Things D explained it best, “In other words, app-discovery platforms built on paid recommendations aren’t going to fly with Apple.” It’s also interesting to note that Apple acquired Chomp, an app search and discovery company in February 2012 but later shelved the project in October of the same year. Later last week, French Minister of Digital Economy Fleur Pellerin commented on Apple’s move and plans to approach the European Commission and EU member states to better regulate digital platforms.
What does this mean for developers and startups? It means Apple has and will pull your app from the App Store if it violates its App Store Review Guidelines. VentureBeat put together a neat article on “9 surprising reasons mobile apps get rejected for the Apple app store.”
Most commonly I see issues relating to in-app purchases. In an attempt to avoid revenue sharing with Apple, some apps navigate users to external sites where they can purchase items or subscriptions. This violates Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines on In-App Purchases unless “the same (or better) subscription price [is] offered inside the app for users who wish to subscribe from within the app.”
The bottom-line? Apple wants app developers to focus on building quality, user-focused apps of premium quality. It boils down to Apple’s dedication to user experience.