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French minister takes Apple to task over yanking AppGratis from App Store

French Minister Delegate for Small and Medium Enterprises, Innovation, and the Digital Economy, Fleur Pellerin. | Source: Global Post

In an interview on Thursday, France's digital industry minister Fleur Pellerin had some tough words for Apple over the company's takedown of app discovery service AppGratis, saying the move was "brutal" and put the startup in danger.

As noted by CNET, Pellerin now plans to ask the EU to examine the takedown, while requesting European regulators crack down on digital platforms like search engines and social media outlets. She said the recent decision justifies closer inspection of how influential tech companies "impose" their rules and regulations on others.

"I recall that the French are the world's second largest developers of software applications behind the United States for mobile devices," Pellerin told 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..."

Before being pulled from the App Store earlier this week, France-based App Gratis served up notable iOS titles to more than 10 million users. The company's blog noted the service drove one million app installs per day for its app partners.

In banning AppGratis, Apple cited a newly implemented rule that denied services from promote other apps in a manner similar to the App Store. The Cupertino company also said the app broke another mandate against using push notifications to send advertising, promotions, or direct marketing.

A day after AppGratis was deprecated from the App Store, company CEO Simon Dawlat aired his frustration in a blog post, claiming that reviewers had not only approved the most recent app update, but also let pass an iPad version, which was given the OK just one week prior.

The AppGratis fuss is just the beginning, according to AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, who heard from people familiar with the matter that "Apple feels these apps threaten the legitimacy of the App Store charts by providing a way for developers to spend their way to a high ranking." This thinking, which holds that such apps "undermine the integrity" of the App Store by offering what are effectively alternative storefronts, could lead to broader restrictions in the near future.