Apple Removes Iranian Apps From App Store

Apple removed several Iranian apps from the iOS App Store over the weekend. Some of the apps that have been removed are: food delivery service app Delion, Digikala (an Amazon-like retailer), AloPeyk (a parcel delivery service), Takhfifan (a group buying website), and Alibaba’s online travel agency, according to the Financial Tribune.

Apple cites regulations for removing Iranian apps

Just last month, Apple removed some VPN apps from China’s App Store. At the time, the company stated that products which did not comply with Chinese law were removed. All major VPN apps, such as Star VPN, were removed from the store. Earlier this year, China made it mandatory that all VPNs have a license from the government.

This time, it is Iranian apps that are facing the brunt of government regulations and sanctions. The development was emailed to the CEOs of various companies on August 19.

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“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 email read.

In its statement, Apple stated that this area of law is complex and dynamic, adding that if existing restrictions change, the developers should re-submit their apps for inclusion in the App Store, notes FinancialTribune.

However, independent observers believe that Apple has been randomly targeting Iranian startups and online applications.

Delion CEO and founder Mahdi Taghizade told the Financial Tribune, “There is no pattern to Apple’s new move.”

According to Taghizade, apps such as Delion have been removed, but many Iranian apps are still available in the App Store. Further, Digikala Deputy Director Firooz Aghazadeh stated that Apple has not sent written messages to every company and that his firm received a phone call from the American firm.

Loss for Apple and Iranian developers

The steps taken by Apple are largely seen as an effect of President Donald Trump’s policies. However, it could mean a big loss of revenue for the U.S. firm. Iran is largely known for its fondness towards gadgets, with over 40 million smartphones present in the country, of which around 6 million are iPhones. Further, an additional 100,000 units are smuggled into the country every month, notes HT.

Beginning this year, Apple has axed some Iranian apps from the App Store, in stark contradiction with what the company did in 2016 when it approved many Iranian apps, including Digikala. As there is no official App Store for Iran, most of the local companies presented themselves as being outside of Iran to get registered in the iOS App Store.

Meanwhile, Apple has been facing some straightforward questions from Twitter users, with one user asking the company if the apps are being removed because of their Iranian origin. Apple’s extreme steps follow the recent comment by U.S. parvenu Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that Iran must be held responsible for “its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of UN Security Council resolutions.”