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Apple-AppGratis flap triggers threat from French minister

France's digital industry minister dumps verbal vichyssoise on Apple for banning French startup's service from App Store.

French digital industry minister Fleur Pellerin. Getty Images
Fleur Pellerin, France's digital industry minister, is taking Apple to the public woodshed for pulling the AppGratis service from the App Store, saying the tech giant's "brutal" treatment had put the French startup in danger. She now plans to ask European regulators to more closely regulate digital platforms including search engines and social media.

"I recall that the French are the world's second largest developers of software applications behind the United States for mobile devices," Pellerin was quoted as saying in LeMonde Informatique. "What is the sense of investing if, overnight, the economic model is jeopardized by a unilateral decision...There is an issue of fairness in commercial relations..."

Pellerin said the issue justified taking a closer look at how companies with large, dominant technology platforms can "impose" their conditions on others.

Apple last week removed the app, which claims more than 10 million users. AppGratis had been available on Apple's platform since last December.

However, Apple says AppGratis violated its ban against promoting apps sold by other vendors. Reuters is reporting that Apple held a discussion with AppGratis before dumping it from its platform. The decision to remove AppGratis centers on the following provisions in the App Store guidelines:

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 contacted Apple for comment and will update this post when there is more information.