AppGratis tries petition to shame Apple on app removal

The freebie app service, which was pulled from Apple's App Store earlier this month, tries to show how useful it is to people.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Facing what appears to be an indefinite ban of its software from Apple's App Store, French app discovery service AppGratis is trying to make a case for itself with an Internet petition.

A new page that went up over the weekend gives users a special e-mail address to send their pleas to if they want to "save" the company. So far, the initiative has accumulated more than 608,000 such messages, according to the page's official tally.

AppGratis was removed from Apple's App Store earlier this month. The software would alert users to a daily app deal it brokered with developers. Apple said users could confuse it with the App Store, but its creators vehemently disagree.

The conversation has since shifted to whether AppGratis was actually just one of several companies working to inflate app rankings, thereby gaming Apple's App Store charts. It's also incited a call on European regulators to look into the stability and fairness of digital distribution platforms, including Apple's.

As for the petition, the typically ineffective method of bringing attention to causes has gained some attention in recent years. That's been fueled in part by crowdsourced platforms like Change.org, as well as the White House's "We The People" program, which requires 100,000 signatures within 30 days to require an official response (though the threshold used to be much lower). The platform has been used to bring about action on a number of issues, from cell phone unlocking, to whether the government should build a Death Star.

Even so, Apple has made it quite clear that it does not like things like this. In fact, it warns companies not to "run to the press and trash us," in the preamble of its App Store Guidelines. In a blog post, AppGratis CEO Simon Dalat said this latest initiative is simply its users issuing "a vote of confidence."

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