Apple is facing regulatory problems in China after a group of 28 app developers filed a complaint against the Cupertino-based American multinational technology giant, accusing the company for "abuse of market power and App Store control".
According to a report in Financial Times on Thursday, Beijing-based Dare & Sure law firm filed a case of anti-competitive behaviour in China, in which Chinese regulators alleged that "Apple was abusing its control of the iOS App Store to mistreat Chinese app developers by removing their apps without good reason and levying a high charge for in-app purchases".
"[Apple founder] Steve Jobs represented the American dream. But Apple's unequal treatment of China's young developers stops them from realising their China dream," Lin Wei, the lawyer representing a group of 28 developers, was quoted as saying.
Last month, Apple removed all major VPN apps from the App Store in China. VPN service providers in China received a notification from Apple that their applications would be removed from the App Store "because it includes content that is illegal in China".
Apple, which drew severe criticism for removing VPN apps, said it took the step as the country's VPN developers did not meet the new regulations.
In a statement, Apple said that earlier this year, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government.
"We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations. These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business," Apple had said in a statement.
With the help of VPNs, Chinese Internet users bypass the country's famous "Great Firewall" that heavily restricts their access to foreign sites. This also helps them in remaining hidden from Internet service providers.
Apple has an advantage in China's app market as Google Play Store for Android smartphones are blocked in the country. Meanwhile, Apple said that it has complied with "local laws and regulations" and it had a process for developers to appeal against being removed and to get back into the App Store.
"We continue to expand our local developer relations team in China," the report added, quoting Apple. The development came on the heels of appointment of Isabel Ge Mahe as Apple's new Vice President and Managing Director of Greater China.