Once again Apple has removed some of the Iranian apps from its store. Plus the company has been rejecting new updates from Iranian apps in the past few months due to U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Only iPhone Has A One Billion Dollar Market in Iran
Iran is a country of 80 million people and most of them are tech-savvy. There are 48 million smartphones and 47 million social media users in the country. iPhone’s billion dollar market, the 1.2 Million illegally imported iPhones per year and an estimated 7 million iPhones in the country (14.5% of Iran’s smartphone market) all indicate a big market for Apple products in Iran. In a nutshell, Iranian market could have some serious effects on Apple’s stocks indirectly. Furthermore, due to the absence of international payment methods and credit cards such MasterCard and Visa, Iranians have to use Apple’s gift cards to be able to purchase an app or use Apple’s other services. Even there was a time not so long ago, that Iranians couldn’t update their iOS version and the apps which they paid for without using VPN and faking their IP address.
The history of removing Iranian apps from App Store
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This is not the first time that Apple has removed or rejected updates from Iranian apps without any notice. The reason behind removing Iranian apps was mostly due to domestic payment. A recent response from Apple on why removing Iranian apps was:
“We are unable to include your app, [App’s name] on the App Store. 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.”
While the previous response in January was:
“Unfortunately, there is no App Store available for the territory of Iran. Additionally, apps facilitating transactions for businesses or entities based in Iran may not comply with the Iranian Transactions Sanctions Regulations (31CFR Part 560) when hosted on the App Store. For these reasons, we are unable to accept your application at this time.
“We encourage you to resubmit your application once international trade laws are revised to allow this functionality.“
Is Apple banning all the Iranian apps?
As you can see in the January response, the major point from Apple was “apps facilitating transactions for businesses or entities based in Iran,” but Apple’s standpoint has changed to “App Store cannot host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain U.S. embargoed countries” which means this time it’s not “facilitating transactions” but rather the whole range of Iranian apps. This change of strategy might be coming from Trump’s administration which is trying to put more pressure on Iran.
How come Google is not Removing Iranian apps?
Regarding payment and transactions, Iran banking system specially SHARAPARK and SHETAB, are completely isolated from the rest of the world. These systems are domestically designed by Iranians to process the money transaction inside the country. Therefore, It can’t possibly have any effects on U.S. sanctions against Iran. We are talking about ordinary people here, people who want to get a taxi using Snapp or buy a product online from Digikala or Bamilo. Now, by removing Iranians apps from App Store, 7 million people like you can’t use their own domestic services. How could it be fair to withdraw a service from people who paid for it? Apple products are platforms which many businesses are built upon. U.S. is providing a high tech technology such as GPS to the whole world and it doesn’t allow Apple to accept Iranian apps which consumer and ordinary people would use. How come Google Play is not rejecting Iranian apps?
What are the damages?
As dozens of Iranian founders have pointed, some of the damages that Apple has caused so far to these startups are:
Cost of development
Cost of account/sign up
Damage to Image of brand
Cost of marketing and campaigns
Possibility of layoffs and unemployments
Keep in mind that an average iPhone user’s basket size is usually larger than an Android user in many cases.
It’s not known yet if Apple is just preventing troubles ahead with U.S. government or It’s just doing it on its own. The question which remains is that how come Iranian apps are not removed by Google?
Tell us what you think by dropping us a comment below.