Apple removes all Iranian apps from its App Store

Apple Inc. has removed all Iranian apps from its App Store, a move the technology giant attributed to U.S. economic sanctions, reports said.

The New York Times reported Thursday that popular apps for food delivery, ride-hailing and other services in Iran have been removed in recent weeks. Citing Iranian media, the Associated Press said the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant had removed all Iranian mobile apps.

According to the New York Times, Apple reportedly notified Iranian developers whose apps were affected by the ban, saying, “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.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Los Angeles Times.

In reaction to Apple's decision, Iranian Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted that Apple accounts for 11% of Iran’s mobile phone market, even though the tech firm does not have an official presence in Iran or any other Persian Gulf country, according to the Associated Press.

“Giving respect to consumer rights is a principle today which Apple has not followed,” Jahromi tweeted. “We will follow up the cutting of the apps legally.”

Iran is home to a vibrant developer market, which has given rise to apps like Snapp, an Uber-like, ride-hailing service that has “revolutionized the taxi industry,” said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, professor of economics at Virginia Tech and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Snapp was one of the apps the New York Times said was removed from the App Store.

“When I’ve been in Iran, I’ve really enjoyed using that,” Salehi-Isfahani said. “Because it’s regulated by customer response, the prices are lower, they are fixed, there’s no haggling.”

He said the ban will probably have a limited effect on the country’s economy and tech industry. What’s more important is what it signals — simmering political and economic uncertainty around the future of the 2015 nuclear deal Iran signed with six other world powers.

Salehi-Isfahani said there has already been much uncertainty about foreign investment, and Apple’s removal of Iranian apps could be a sign that the company believes the accord may be in jeopardy.

“The impact in terms of what people’s perception is of where Iran is going with globalization and with relations with the West is fairly big,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

Twitter: @smasunaga

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