Following the US sanctions on Iran, Apple has been cracking down on Iranian apps over the last few weeks. To note, Apple has no official presence in Iran, and iPhones are not legally available for sale. But Iranians get their hands on iPhones from places like Dubai and Hong Kong, which eventually led way to the developers creating apps for local users and offering them through app stores outside Iran.
The stats show that around 48 million smartphones are sold in the country every year, and country has 47 million social media users with a population of 80 million. That’s despite the fact that the country has blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for years.
Apple recently confirmed that it is removing Iranian apps that facilitate businesses or entities based in Iran, which includes a ride-sharing app called Snapp and food delivery app called DeliconFoods, among others. A few developers have raised their concerns on Twitter by creating #StopRemovingIranianApps.
On the technology front, the American sanctions against Iran over its nuclear weapons program is complicated. During the Obama administration, things were light on American tech companies, and they were allowed and even encouraged to offer Internet services in Iran. There was a free flow of information, especially among the younger crowd. Now, the Trump administration has changed everything by signing a new bill into law this month, and it is still unclear what the restrictions are on technology companies.
Apple informed developers: “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.”
One of DelionFoods’ founders, Mahdi Taghizadeh, expressed frustration over the decision in an interview with The Times. Citing hard work, he said “No one with an iPhone can download any of the popular apps any more. Imagine if in the U.S. you wouldn’t be able to get Uber on your phone.”
Iran’s new telecommunications – and youngest – minister, Mohammed Javed Azari Jahromi, raised the issue on Twitter about Apple’s decision to remove the apps, and said he was planning to take up the issue.
He further adds that 11 percent of the smartphone market in Iran belongs to Apple, and said: “Respecting customer rights is a principle today that Apple hasn’t abided by. We will legally pursue the omission of apps.”