UPDATED: Report: AppGratis charged developers to boost App Store rankings
A document obtained by Business Insider indicates that AppGratis charged iOS developers large sums of cash to vault their applications to the top of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store download rankings.
Apple ousted AppGratis--which spotlights premium applications offered for free or at heavily discounted prices and promotes "freemium giveaways" like free in-app purchases and level unlocks--from the App Store earlier this month, explaining it violated iOS developer clause 2.25, which reads "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," as well as clause 5.6, which says "Apps cannot use Push Notifications to send advertising, promotions or direct marketing of any kind."
According to Business Insider, AppGratis promised to boost App Store standings in exchange for cash payments--for example, developers who paid the firm $100,000 were guaranteed a top five slot in the U.S. outpost of the Apple storefront. The publication adds it obtained the document from a source within the developer community.
"I believe the document you got shows install, ranking and CPI estimates for AppGratis on a per-country basis," Dawlat wrote in an email to Business Insider. "Today mobile media buying is this simple equation where the biggest industry players will acquire a certain number of installs through guys like AppGratis, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) Mobile Ads, Apple's iAd and all the other guys in order to reach their ranking objective--whatever they are." Asked to expand on his statement, Dawlat declined further comment.
"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," wrote Dawlat in a guest post on VentureBeat.
Earlier this week, AppGratis launched an online petition to persuade Apple to reverse its ban. Contacted by TechCrunch, Dawlat said "We have clearly stated that we have never used any shady and/or incentivized tactics to grow our userbase. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER."
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Updated to include additional comment from Simon Dawlat.