Because of US Iranian sanctions, Apple removed several Iran-made apps from its App Store, including Snapp, a ride-hailing service operating in the Middle Eastern country. The company also deleted shopping apps and others that provide services to Iranian users.
The developers of these apps didn’t receive any sort of warning. After publishing a new version of their apps, they just woke up and saw that they’re no longer available.
When they tried to appeal, they receive an email from the company telling them that the US Office of Foreign Assets Control enforced the trade sanctions.
Users who already downloaded and installed the apps could still access them. However, they could no longer update them from the App Store. Some developers create a web browser version so users could access them and circumvent the removal.
According to the email from Apple:
“Under the U.S. sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute or do business with apps or developers connected to certain U.S. embargoed countries. 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.”
Apple would reconsider those apps if the developers obtained a letter from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control confirming the release of their apps from the restrictions.
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control is a part of the Treasury Department. It enforces trade and economic sanctions. But the department didn’t comment on this matter yet.
Apple is no longer a designer of high-end gadgets for consumers. Rather, it’s considered as a content provider and a digital service. Because of that, it’s facing new challenges.
The service business of the company increased by 22 percent in the past year. It’s also the second largest unit of Apple. Although it attracts several investors, the distribution of information online could mean more disputes with foreign governments.
But it’s not the first time that Apple removed some apps from its App Store because of government issues. Last month, the company faced the same app removal situation.
Apple excluded VPN apps designed to bypass Internet restrictions in China. The company stated that it removed some VPN apps in the country because they didn’t meet the new regulations.
The nuclear-related sanctions to Iran were lifted in 2016 after the country agreed with world powers. However, some trade and banking sanctions remain, thereby, affecting some businesses.
Under the previous administration, the deal was considered as a milestone for Iran to join the international markets finally. It was also seen as a way for it to open its doors to foreign investment and technology. However, the current administration pushed more sanctions against it.
Developers of those apps spent money on research and designing the apps for Apple phones. Because of the removal of those apps, it would also mean that half of the cost they spent is now gone.
In Iran, there are around 7 million iPhone users. The purchasing power of these users is higher than Android users. The sanctions would be a problem because consumers couldn’t access them and vice versa.