China Is Unhappy With Apple’s Treatment Of App Developers

With Apple cracking down on illegitimate mobile apps worldwide, a second group of app designers in China has filed a legal complaint against the iPhone maker.

The Financial Times reported news that since the crackdown started earlier this year, Apple has removed more than one million Chinese mobile apps from its App Store to date. While it does routinely perform mass cleanups of its App Store, as well as delete tens of thousands of programs at one time, it has cut almost 200,000 more Chinese apps than those from the U.S. so far this year.

“Apple used to have a good reputation,” said Chen Wen, a dating app developer based in Chengdu, western China. “But their recent behavior, such as unequal treatment of Chinese developers, has left many unsatisfied.”

Apple declined to comment on the volume of its app deletions in China. Last month, a Beijing-based law firm, Dare & Sure, filed the first Chinese antitrust case against Apple on behalf of 28 developers, and it has now expanded to cover more than 50 developers. Last week, a second law firm in western China has filed on behalf of 23 more developers.

“Our common goal in initiating this collective action is to fight for fair business relationships for China’s developers,” wrote Sichuan Fa Ye Law Firm in the complaint to China’s commercial and economic regulators.

China is the most important market for Apple’s App Store in terms of revenue, but developers in China said they often did not receive warning before the app deletions happened or get a helpful response from the company explaining the decision.

“When companies that are important to Apple allege that certain apps infringe their rights and should be taken down, Apple will do so with very little evidence or even no evidence,” wrote law firm Dare & Sure.

Many developers said apps that may seem like copies would often be for different audiences or regions. There is also little understanding to how Apple determines which mobile app is the original.

“Some Apple developers have a monopoly on power and can do whatever they like; they can get any app taken down if they want to,” said Gu Cheng, a freelance developer.


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