Citing US sanctions as its pretext, Apple Inc. has once again removed from its App Store a number of iOS applications developed by Iranian companies.
The American company has removed applications of several online businesses including Delion (food delivery service), DigiKala (Amazon-like retailer), AloPeyk (parcel delivery service), Takhfifan (group buying website), and Alibaba (online travel agency).
In the early hours of August 19, CEOs of the several local businesses received an email from Apple, which reads as follows:
“We are unable to include your app on the App Store. Under the US sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain US embargoed countries.”
The statement further adds “This area of law is complex and constantly changing. If the existing restrictions shift, we encourage you to resubmit your app for inclusion on the App Store.”
Independent observers are of the strong opinion that Apple is randomly targeting Iranian startups and online applications.
CEO and founder of Delion, Mahdi Taghizade told Financial Tribune “There is no pattern to Apple’s new move.
“While Delion and several other applications have been removed, hundreds of other Iranian apps are still available on App Store.”
Not all businesses received the written message from Apple. Deputy director of Digikala, Firooz Aghazadeh, told the Tribune that he received a phone call from the American firm.
Alopeyk, one of Iran’s leading parcel delivery services, received a similar message midnight on August 19. The company’s CEO and founder Mehdi Nayebi immediately contacted Apple. Again the US company refused to provide further details.
Nayebi said “When I inquired why only some Iranian apps have been targeted while hundreds (including some internationally known names) are still available on App Store, the Apple operator did not respond.”
This is not the first time that Apple has removed Iranian apps from App Store. None of the previous incidents were permanent and after a while the applications were again available on App Store a few days later.
In January, Apple began removing several applications from its store including DigiKala and the Shaparak payment system app. Prior to that in previous years most Iranian apps were blocked from being loaded on to the service.
The random targeting of startups and developers have left Iranian application companies completely bemused.
Social media users on Twitter are also watching the strange and unacceptable ways of the American tech giant, with several other application developers fearing their hard work may be pulled off the iOS store without notice.
One user going by the handle IRC Feeds, messaged Apple directly, saying “Are you pulling apps from iOS store because they are based in Iran? A dev[eloper] I know in Iran is concerned.”
The latest move by Apple comes on the heels of a recent point made by President Hassan Rouhani and the US’ parvenu ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.
On August 16, Haley said Iran must be held responsible for “its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of UN Security Council resolutions.”
Haley was responding to Hassan Rouhani, who said earlier on Tuesday that Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the US imposes any more new sanctions.