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Yanked iOS app AppGratis: We're 'far from finished'

AppGratis, which cuts deals with developers to make their apps free for a day, says that though the AppGratis app was yanked from Apple's App Store, it will still work for those who had downloaded it.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

AppGratis, an app-giveaway service thatApple removed from its stores last week, posted its side of the story this morning, noting that it has tried vehemently to make its app available again.

"I'm still in absolute shock as to what is happening to us," Simon Dawlat, the company's CEO, wrote in a blog post.

In a missive that breaks down the company's storied communication with Apple, Dawlat noted that AppGratis had dealt with rejections of its app before but was able to make changes to get them approved.

The company's version of the service for the iPad had also been approved just a day ahead of when the software was removed, a removal Dawlat attributed to a member of Apple's app review team who had not been involved with any of the previous negotiations.

"For us, obviously, it's a hard hit," he said. "But our mission is far from finished."

AppGratis began as "an e-mail newsletter shared among friends" before evolving into a business with 45 employees. The company brokers deals with developers to make their software free for 24 hours, something that can help get unknown apps discovered, and potentially even boost their profile in the paid section of Apple's rankings when the sale is over.

Apple removed the software from the store last Friday, and yesterday noted that the app was breaking two of the rules from its 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.

Dawlat argued both points, saying he had already discussed the same things with Apple in previous negotiations, and that rule 5.6 shouldn't be an issue in this case.

"We only send one 'system notification' a day to our users, coming in the form of a generic, opt-in only 'Today's deal is here!' message, which is precisely how Apple recommends developers use its push notification service," he said.

As for the future of the service, Dawlat says the app will continue to work for the 12 million people who already downloaded it, and that the company will still run a daily newsletter.