Apple's action against AppGratis is just the start of a wider assault on app promotion networks operating on iOS, with scores more apps set to be removed in the coming weeks.
That's according to AllThingsD, which claims "sources familiar with Apple" have informed the site that the removal of AppGratis from the App Store won't be an isolated incident.
It is, in fact, "just the first step" of wider action designed to clamp down on apps threatening the 'legitimacy' of the App Store.
History repeats itself
AllThingsD doesn't name it sources, of course, and gives no idea of potential targets or timescale.
Indeed, the story is threaded together with the kind of rhetoric commentators broadcasted after Apple removed discovery platform AppShopper from the App Store at the end of 2012.
Yet, despite claims that Apple's App Store regulation 2.25 which is designed to prevent apps on the marketplaces becoming app stores in their own right would lead to a flurry of other apps being removed, it's taken more than four months for the firm to make its next move.
As AllThingsD rightly points out, other apps arguably guilty of the same 'crime' as AppGratis remain happily on the App Store.
"Apple's removal of AppGratis, then, wasn't some mid-level misstep or a furtive policy change that the company prefers not to explain," concludes AllThingsD's John Paczkowski.
"It was a straight-ahead compliance action."
Of course, this is a stance that doesn't sit well with the account of AppGratis CEO Simon Dawlat, who in a blog post published yesterday suggested a new member of Apple's app review team had pulled the app just hours after the iPad version of the platform had been approved for sale.
"And that is pretty much where we stand, still stunned that Apple took the decision to destroy so much value within their own ecosystem, but more than ever convinced that what we're doing is good, and accomplishing a much needed mission in a broken App Discovery world," Dawlat concluded.
"But even in dark times, every problem has a solution. And we are going to find one."
Timing, then, appears to be a key, with AppGratis' app recommendation platform having successfully served 7 million users across 120 countries before it even launched in the US.
It's presence Stateside, however, appears to have alerted Apple's attention. Not only did AppGratis' influence over the App Store rise accordingly, but it also attracted substantial investment.
It's a situation that's leading many to conclude that Apple's action against AppGratis isn't based on principle. Rather, it's one entirely motivated by the level of success the targets have amassed.
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.
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