Apple has aggressively moved to shut down apps created by Iranian developers for users in the Middle East country, a location where the company officially does not even exist.
Due to sanctions by the United States against Iran, Apple has no official presence in the country, with no iPhones for sale and no Iranian App Store. However, that has not stopped Iranians from using Apple's products and services.
Apple Moves To Shut Down Iranian Apps
Apple officially does not exist in Iran, but Iranians own millions of iPhones that were smuggled into the country from places such as Hong Kong and Dubai. Iranian developers have also created thousands of apps for Iranians, offered through App Stores of other countries.
Apple, however, has now started to aggressively shut down these Iranian apps. The company recently pulled Snapp, a popular app in the country that functions similarly to Uber, from all versions of its App Store. This follows a purge across recent weeks for Iranian apps created for shopping, food delivery, and other purposes.
Back in January, Apple started taking down Iranian apps such as DigiKala, the biggest e-commerce app in the country. DigiKala offered in-app transactions, which is illegal according to U.S. sanctions, as Apple would be taking a cut of all purchases made through the app.
The new activities by Apple are an expansion of this earlier move, as more Iranian apps are in the company's crosshairs.
"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," Apple said in the message sent to the developers of the Iranian apps. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr confirmed that the message is true, but declined to issue further comments on the matter.
Google, on the other hand, allows Iranian developers to publish Android apps on the Google Play Store as long as no purchases are involved. It also appears that Google is not taking the same aggressive approach in taking down Iranian apps.
Apple vs China And Apple vs Iran
Apple's removal of Iranian apps is compared to the company's agreement with the Chinese government to take down VPN apps in the App Store in the country. However, the two things are entirely different.
While Apple complied with Chinese laws to continue operating in the Asian country in the second case, the first case is all about an American law being applied to Iran.
It remains to be seen how the situation will play out in Iran, but for now, it appears that Apple device owners in the country are in for troubling times.