App Developer Calls For Open Revolt Against Apple

Apple is facing more pressure over its relationship with app developers, after one developer called for an open revolt against the iPad maker.

According to the Financial Times, an app developer called Blix, which makes the BlueMail email management app, is suing Apple.

The developer alleges that Apple stole its anonymous email sign-in feature with its “Sign in with Apple.” It also alleges that Apple “suppressed” Blix’s iPhone app in search results, and also removed its macOS app out of the App Store.

Call for unity

And not content with launching legal action against Apple, Blix issued a statement in which it called for other disgruntled app developers to join forces with it in speaking out against Apple’s alleged unfair business practices.

“We’re issuing a call for unity against the biggest tech company,” BlueMail tweeted. “If Apple has kicked you out of its App Store, used guidelines to control you, hijacked your ranking or stolen your tech, reach out to us at fair@bluemail.me https://fair.bluemail.me

Blix alleges that Apple stole BlueMail’s anonymous email sign-in feature.

That feature allows users to generate a random email address for apps when signing in, so they never hand over personal information to a third party.

Days after Blix spotted that Apple had announced Sign in with Apple at its annual developer conference in June 2019, the bosses of Blix (Dan and Ben Volach) noted that their email app, BlueMail, had also been removed from the Mac App Store.

They published an open letter in November to Apple CEO Tim Cook, asking him to restore BlueMail to the Mac App Store, despite the ongoing litigation.

Fair treatment

“Years ago, my brother and I started BlueMail with a big vision for next generation messaging,” Ben Volach wrote. “Earlier this year, we were shocked to see Apple copy our patented technology and just days later, drop us from the Mac App Store.”

“It has now been over five months since Apple removed BlueMail from the Mac App Store,” wrote Volach. “In these five months, our company’s future has been put in jeopardy. Our users do not understand why BlueMail stopped being available on the store, nor can we give them a date when it will be restored.”

“Apple may have long forgotten what it is like to be a small company, but we are living it,” he wrote. “ A lawsuit was our last option. We don’t want to be in a courtroom. Mr. Cook, we are asking you personally, please bring BlueMail back to the Mac App Store. Please treat small developers with fairness and empathy. Please recognize your own roots as a small business, struggling to compete against the establishment, in our struggle for fairness.”

Apple however did tell the Financial Times that it had kicked BlueMail from the macOS store due to security concerns.

Apple also reportedly said it has attempted to work with the company to bring the app back to the store and that it offers developers a “fair and level playing field.”

Anitrust complaints

Earlier this week it was revealed that app developers were being questioned by the US Justice Department (DoJ) as part of its antitrust investigation of Apple and other big name technology giants.

In June last year, Apple was hit with a lawsuit from two app developers, who alleged that the App store gives the iPad maker a monopoly on the sale and distribution of iOS apps.

Apple has also clashed with the makers of a number of parental control apps back in April 2019, after it had removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 most downloaded screen-time and parental-control apps.

Spotify complaint

And in March 2019 the Swedish music streaming giant Spotify filed a complaint in which it accused Apple of unfairly using the dominance of its App Store to give the Apple Music service a competitive advantage.

That saw EU regulators reportedly readying a formal antitrust probe against Apple, following the Spotify complaint.

The Spotify complaint centres on Apple’s policy of charging digital content providers a 30 percent fee for using its payment system for subscriptions sold in the App Store.

Apple has strongly defended itself against Spotify’s complaints.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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