Apple's removal of Blockchain app called 'anti-competitive'

Apple's removal of Blockchain app called 'anti-competitive'

Summary: The Bitcoin wallet service had its app pulled from the App Store this week and the group is fighting mad over the decision noting that "the beancounters are now firmly in charge."

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TOPICS: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone, iPad
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Apple's been on a tear lately, removing Bitcoin-related apps from the App Store swiftly and without warning. 

In June 2013 Apple removed Bitcoin wallet apps Blockchain Wallet and BitPak after Apple claimed that they needed to "comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users." In November 2013 Apple removed Coinbase, a Bitcoin buying and trading platform, from the App Store and required the developers behind Gliph, a secure messaging platform that allowed Bitcoin transfers, to remove the BTC transfer feature in order to stay on the App Store. 

Blockchain's Bitcoin app for iOS - Jason O'Grady

Late Wednesday Apple removed Blockchain's Bitcoin wallet app for iOS (above) from the App Store. Clicking on the download link now throws the generic "Item Not Available" dialog, pictured below. 

Now you see it, now you don't - Jason O'Grady

According to Blockchain CEO Nicolas Cary Apple said the app was "removed from the App Store due to an unresolved issue." Blockchain took to its blog to respond to Apple insinuating that Apple is removing Bitcoin apps because the company is scared of competition in the payments arena:

On Wednesday February 5th, Apple attempted to strike a devastating blow to the bitcoin ecosystem on iOS by removing “Blockchain”, the last remaining bitcoin wallet app, from the App Store. Offering no explanation and no opportunity to address any issues, without any apparent change in circumstances other than the growing popularity of the independent and competitive payment system, Apple has eradicated their payment competition on iOS and left the bitcoin space entirely to competing mobile OSs like Google’s Android.

On January 24, 2014 WSJ reported that Apple is laying the groundwork to expand into mobile payments to deliver physical goods. Apple's believed to be tapping Bluetooth 4.0, iBeacons and Touch ID to enable users to pay for goods using their iPhones via the credit card attached to their iTunes account. Forrester Research estimates that Americans will spend $90 billion through mobile payments by 2017, up from $12.8 billion in 2012.

Rather than citing the usual fears in dealing with Bitcoin apps (money laundering, fraud, terror financing, etc.) Apple played the "unresolved issue" card to obfuscate the real issue – it's wiping out competition. 

Blockchain pulled no punches on its blog, stating:

These actions by Apple once again demonstrate the anti-competitive and capricious nature of the App Store policies that are clearly focused on preserving Apple’s monopoly on payments rather than based on any consideration of the needs and desires of their users.

Apple's been taking a beating from the Bitcoin community in the process. It's been a virtual Apple bloodbath in the /r/Bitcoin sub-Reddit over the past couple of days with many BTC supporters smashing and shooting their iPhones. It go so bad one enterprising company is offering to accept iPhones in exchange for Bitcoin.

Blockchain took to its blog a second time early Friday noting the backlash within the media. The post cites numerous responses to the app's removal and outcries from Bitcoin's devoted following.

While Apple has the right to remove apps that violates its rules, the removal of the Blockchain app appears to little more than a thinly veiled attempt to block the growth of Bitcoin as a payment vehicle. 

Has Apple become a soulless money-making machine? Has Tim Cook declared "thermonuclear war" on alternative/crypto currencies?

Update: Blockchain CEO Nicolas Cary gave this interview to CNBC about the issue.

Topics: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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22 comments
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  • Apple = fascism = FISA secret court

    I have always been saying that the Apple's customers must be bad persons because they support this rotten behaviour
    Don't use Apple products to preserve freedom and choice!
    Jiří Pavelec
    • Dude, take of your tinfoil hat

      It's clearly cutting off circulation to your brain.
      matthew_maurice
      • wake up, kiddie

        Wake up, kiddie:

        "
        Apple sued for collecting and selling customers’ personal info.

        The U.S. National Security Agency has the ability to snoop on nearly every communication sent from an Apple iPhone.

        Because of Apple we have to pay more for eBooks in the whole world - Apple played 'central role' in ebook price-fixing conspiracy
        "
        anywherehome
      • Dude, Wake Up And Look Around

        I'd say this last year's revelations about government & corporate data gathering make the tin foil hat crowd sound a lot less crazy.
        revspaminator
      • Get out.

        Or, if you like, you could pull your head out of your ass?
        bigglesguy@...
  • "Apple has the right to remove apps that violates its rules"

    That's one of the advantages of owning the hardware and the software. It is Apple's playground, and if they don't want to let you play in it, they don't have to.

    From the App store review guidelines:

    "We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, "I'll know it when I see it". And we think that you will also know it when you cross it."

    Basically says they can throw out anything

    "Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users. It is the developer's obligation to understand and conform to all local laws"

    Since apps are available worldwide, the recent ban on bitcoins in Indonesia means that all bitcoin apps should be banned from the App Store, as they do not "conform to all local laws" there.

    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/business/bitcoins-neither-currency-nor-legal-paymen-tools-in-indonesia-central-bank/
    john-whorfin
  • Shoot my non-existant imaginary iPhone!

    Kabloooooi!

    There, now, I feel better!
    ;-)
    kd5auq
    • O.K...

      That was funny.
      nssdiver
  • this why i dont go ijunk way

    apple too controling so i dont go with the ijunk stuff sorry i call apple products ijunjk
    dragonstar125
  • Are people really that dumb?

    Smashing or shooting your own phone doesn't really work as a means of protest, mainly because it's your phone and you paid for it. Apple will be rubbing their hands together, as when these idiots stop huffing they will likely go and buy a new iPhone to replace the one they destroyed.
    Skullet
    • What?

      No they won't. Would you? Seriously? Don't be such an idiot; they'll buy Android, blackberry, anything but Apple.
      bigglesguy@...
  • OMG, a bunch of whiners

    There is this idea called Capitalism... It's about making a good product and making money... I know it's shocking but bear with me. There is a control - You don't like a company or product, you stop buying it and they either change or go out of business.

    P.S. Bitcoin needs to clean up it's act because to the lay person it seems fraught with money laundering, fraud, terror financing, etc.

    Ok, back to the whining... /sigh
    dragnn
    • Lay people need to wise up

      because "money laundering, fraud, terror financing, etc." are currently being done with dollars, euro, riyals, etc.
      kaur
      • Aren't they traceable

        unlike Bitcoins?
        William.Farrel
        • Not really.

          The point of bitcoins is that they are meant to be untraceable in the same way that cash is, but online and over a distance.
          If you give someone a pony in used fivers, no-one know where it came from and where it went, unless they sat down and wrote down the serial numbers.
          That compares quite well with sending them a bitcoin or two.
          philculmer
      • Thought...

        ...the same thing. Don't think there is manipulation, fraud, crime, etc. with non-bitcoin money?
        Rann Xeroxx
      • Primary use

        Well, except that with the other currencies, criminals are not their primary proponent.
        varase
  • Complaining about software?

    Apple's getting gun-shy; too much court time. That's what you get when your only costume is a suit :-)
    trm1945
  • Tim Cook; Apple's Steve Ballmer

    Cook is a man without vision, it is a Steve Ballmer clone. Bad for customers and actually in the end also bad for shareholders. Apple is showing signs of the same disturbing behaviour Microsoft displayed till 5 years ago. The wait is for a nice new start up that convert our Mac and IOS data seamlessly.
    rhon@...
    • Just Like The 90's

      Sound a lot like Apple the last time they were without Jobs.
      revspaminator