After removing VPN apps from its App Store in China, Apple has now removed popular Iranian apps from its Apps Store.
According to a report by The New York Times, even though Apple iPhones are not officially sold in Iran, that hasn't stopped users from smuggling them from places such as Dubai or Hong Kong. Apple isn't officially present in Iran and neither is there an official Apple App Store in Iran. But that hasn't stopped Iranian developers from making apps for the iPhone users in Iran.
However, since the ties between the US and Iran have been severing, Apple has been forced to stop hosting Iranian apps on its app store. Meanwhile, Play Store in Android has not removed any of these apps.
In a message to Iranian app developers, Apple has said, "Under the US sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute or do business with apps or developers connected to certain US embargoed countries.”
This is not the first time Apple has taken such a step. Last month Apple received criticism for removing virtual private network apps from App Store keeping the Chinese internet regulations in minds.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have also been banned in Iran. However, users have found access to these websites. The removal of Iranian apps from the App Store has led to an online agitation amongst iPhone users who have started a #StopRemovingIranianApps on Twitter as well as a petition on Change.org addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The petition states that apps of startups like Digikala, e-commerce platform, and Snapp, a ride-hailing service have been removed; thus, affecting their business in the country. The petition had marked Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javed Zarif.
According to The New York Times, Iran’s Telecommunication, Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, tweeted his disagreement to US sanction. Saying that 11 percent of Iranian cellphone market is from Apple he tweeted in Farsi, saying, “Respecting customer rights is a principle today that Apple hasn’t abided by. We will legally pursue the omission of apps.”