• App Removed At Competition's Request... Does That Seem Right To You?

    A cautionary tale is being served up today by our friends from AppVault, who shared for all to see on their website that Apple pulled the plug on "AppVault" in the App Store because the competitors from "AppBox" issued a complaint and notified Apple.

    Late last night, we found out that AppVault was removed from the App Store – because our main competitor, AppBox, complained that AppVault was too similar and infringed on their copyright.
    Although the two apps have some noted similarities (as the folks at AppVault openly admit), if we go down the path of "similarities" being sufficient to restrict the introduction of an app into the App Store, the total number of applications presently available would be immediately thinned out to a mere fraction of its former self.

    First, a point on US copyright law. In the US you can’t copyright ideas – rather copyright protects things like code, images, etc. All of the code and artwork in AppVault was developed by us from scratch – so there is no real issue there.
    This development could very well leave no shortage of developers feeling both disheartened and concerned about their own applications in the wake of Apple's decision to remove an app for what seems to be no good reason other than the fact that AppBox issued a complaint. Is that all it takes to get Apple to shoot down your competition in the App Store? If this is Apple's new policy, I hope Cupertino is ready for a deluge of similar "complaints" from developers who will likely want to see their competition kicked to the curb.

    We provided the marketplace with better value, and a better product, which was our genuine intent – and it seemed our customers agreed. Two days ago we passed AppBox in the rankings in the App Store, and both reviewers and bloggers consistently agreed that AppVault was a far better deal. This was great – we felt like we had succeeded in our goal to provide the best value in the App Store. However, the developer of AppBox submitted a complaint to Apple that our apps were too similar and demanded for AppVault to be pulled from the App Store. Although we pointed out that his demands were not grounded in copyright law and even worked with him to address some of his issues, about a week later Apple pulled us from the store without even talking to us first or providing a reason.
    As the blog post goes on to note, there are other examples of Apple quickly buckling to pressures from developers who made a stink about rival apps in the App Store. But just because AppVault isn't the first to be removed without "potential good reasoning," that doesn't make it any easier for the developers behind AppVault to accept the cards they've been dealt. And they are certainly making their thoughts on the matter known to all.

    Although I appreciate Apple wanting to stay out of a dispute between two rivals, the policy to pull an app from the store on complaint by a rival isn’t impartial – it is taking sides. It allows an app developer to dictate the marketplace, forcing a poorer quality product on Apple’s customers and taking away a customer’s right to choose.
    Image via AppVault
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