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Ask HN: Apple closed our entire app store
49 points by tsunamifury on Aug 30, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments
I am asking Hacker News for any help or advice they may have to offer. This is our situation:

Midnight on Monday we received a termination notice from Apple. The notice vaguely implied 'bad faith' as the reason to terminate our contract.

Tuesday morning all our apps were removed from the app store. We represent several small and large publishers, so almost 100 multimedia apps were pulled down.

Tuesday midday we call dev relations and get a stone-wall from Apple. Dev relations tells us that they will not give us a reason for the termination.

Tuesday afternoon our lawyers get involved. They try to use back channels to get more information, but are also stone-walled. They then inform us that they have a conflict of interest with Apple and cannot represent us as apple will not sign a conflict waiver.

Tuesday evening we contact a senior individual within Apple. He informs us that our account is clean in the app store records and there are no complaints against us and that Legal has requested the termination. Legal will not provide a response.

Our company employs almost 100 people and relies heavily on the iTunes App Store as a major source of income. We also work with Google, Blackberry, Nokia, Windows 7 and several other app stores and have never been treated in this way.

I'm in shock that Apple has unilaterally terminated our business relationship. Does anyone have any experience with this situation or any advice?




Stop yelling fire when there is none. If you want community support, then link your apps.

Link to the apps currently "with Google, Blackberry, Nokia, Windows (Phone) 7, and several other app stores". Tell us the name of your company. Tell us the names of the titles pulled.

Until you release any of this, you are yelling fire when there is clearly none.


Yeah totally agree.

I am hoping you represent all the slot machine apps on the App Store. They are ridiculous - taking money from deluded gambling addicts with no way to win.


I totally agree, was about to post this myself.


I was advised not to risk any media problem yet by revealing my company. I am asking for any advice or help from anyone who has been in the same situation.

Please contact me at chrishnhelp@gmail.com


I hate to do this, but you've wasted a lot of time with your post and comments. Like many people in this thread, I was frustrated by your refusal to give us basic information such as your company name.

You linked to your resume (http://www.constantwanderer.com/resume/) a few months ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4033815

Looking at your LinkedIn profile, I see the company name is Mobifusion. Apple's app store has no results, but searching Google's store gives me this: https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Mobifusion,+...

What does Mobifusion make? Almost 200 apps. A bunch of recipe apps. Lots of cocktail recipe apps. Vegan recipe apps. Various public domain works (Bible, Quran, etc). There are a lot of identical or extremely similar apps. Different versions of the CIA World Factbook. Different versions of the Bible. Some Harry Potter encyclopedias, etc.

It's no wonder Apple removed these. It's no wonder you refused to reveal your company.

Again, I didn't want to do this, but you tried to take advantage of HN. You falsely painted Apple in a bad light and falsely portrayed your own company as blameless. Shame on you.


If you look at the ratings in the Android Market it looks quite fishy. Most apps have tons of five star ratings (especially shortly after release) and all from the same device "Asus Nexus 7" and from similar usernames. Then some apps have very low ratings probably from the real users.


Note his description of his legal problems:

"We were in the middle of an especially tenacious individual who was fraudulently claiming we were using a name he did not have a TM on. As our lawyers were trying to solve the problem, we were shut down."

Here's the example of his app, priced 2.42 EUR:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mobi.andro...

The title of the app uses a best-seller author and book name, and is in fact just the 52 "quotes" from the author.

Then, the real-user review shows that the app doesn't deliver even that:

"The latest update at first told me my licence was invalid, then when I wouldn't fill in my email address to get spam from mobifusion it would crash and exit."


Yep, sounds like an app spammer trying to drum up sympathy and ill-will. And like all spammers, "Some people totally find it useful!"


Wow, even his __resume__ looks like spam.


I voted this story up, because if true, this is the kind of thing that is valuable community information. But now that you've made it clear that you don't intend to let us know who you are, I regret it. I think it's probable you've got something to hide, and that Apple likely has a legitimate case against you.


I suspect it's only a matter of time before someone reveals it for you - it didn't take much Google-fu to find it out.

I believe it's your decision whether to name your company (so I'm not going to do it for you), but I doubt everyone who might be interested will feel the same way.


Interesting comment thread.

Not enough information to do anything of course. But these two points stand out:

1) Tuesday afternoon our lawyers get involved. They try to use back channels to get more information, but are also stone-walled. They then inform us that they have a conflict of interest with Apple and cannot represent us as apple will not sign a conflict waiver.

2) Tuesday evening we contact a senior individual within Apple. He informs us that our account is clean in the app store records and there are no complaints against us and that Legal has requested the termination. Legal will not provide a response.

If both of these statements are accurate as represented then Apple Legal determined that you were doing something illegal, further by distributing your Apps it was exposing Apple to potential liability, further your lawyers figured it out too and they don't want anything to do with it.

Looking at the apps that get this sort of treatment in the App store I see things that infringe trademarks or copyrights of other companies (misusing sound-alike names or imagery).

Of course one can't know for sure until you include representative applications that were removed.


The lawyers represent both Apple and Us. This was the problem. Evidently a large number of firms are on Apple's retainer and when you get into legal issues with Apple, the firms wont represent you.


Well you need new lawyers then in any case. I'm curious when you started your relationship with these lawyers. I ask because they had a conflict of interest the moment they agreed to represent you and Apple and would have settled the issue then not now. (Well any decent lawyers would and Apple tends to hire decent lawyers so by association I'm going to guess they aren't some sketchy organization)

That was why when I read that statement from you, in my head I read it as "The lawyers have made up this story to get out of representing these guys." which I admit was uncharitable to the lawyers. The more charitable interpretation would be "Wow, these lawyers are so clueless they didn't bother establishing ahead of time that a person publishing in the Apple App Store might come into conflict with their marquee customer Apple? It sure is a good thing they recused themselves since if this was representative Tsunami is better off without them."


Name sounded familiar, he says it was shovelware in a previous post on hacker news. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4389468


Just a guess: He also claims that his "top sells" are "simple reference apps" and that the users "throw them away" after they "impulse" buy them. He also claims they use clever "brand" names. So I can imagine he calls the app for example "Excel" and in the app content is "Ten tips how you can edit the Excel file."

If something like this is what he makes (app spams) I think it's good he got blocked.


If Apple is really in the wrong here, you SHOULD want to "risk any media problem" - especially if they're not your problems, but Apple's.

Bullshit meter is reading pretty high at the moment.

Mostly it sounds like you were breaking laws or violating some fairly obvious TOS rule for them to pull ALL of your apps.


When I had to deal with the apple appstore it was really clear that the rules are by Apple for Apple. It is far from a "fair" treatment, especially if your app doesn't generate any revenue for them.

Now I don't know how bad you blew the apple guidelines but at least they should tell you right away what's wrong.

Maybe you have yourself a clue to share ?


Post the termination notice in full perhaps?

How many apps went down? Did you violate iTunes/App Store T+C in some noticeable way? Finally, did you violate someone elses rights copyrights, trademarks, intellectual property such that they may have sent a demand letter to Apple?

Perhaps in retrospect, having all the apps tied to a single entity was a bad service for your clients representing a single point of failure.


>Perhaps in retrospect, having all the apps tied to a single entity was a bad service for your clients representing a single point of failure.

Yeah I worked at a company the bought an off-the-shelf template for an app from a company that did a lot of customization too for us. They required every client to register the apps at Apple themselves. Smart.


Multimedia apps statement is very ambiguous and dangerous. Did you have an video or music app? Or a photo gallery app that users can publish copyrighted photos. Apple probably deserves right to remove your app if they see you as an opponent in the market. Please elaborate the situation and publicize your company name for good.


If you're with who I think you are, your company's website is down and the company Twitter feed hasn't been updated since last November.

If I had to guess at Apple's reasons (given the "bad faith" line), it'd be that they suspect you of something along the lines of posting bogus reviews/ratings or buying downloads.


Are you really that shocked? You should do some research how developers have been treated by Apple before basing your entire company on them. There are dozens upon dozens of similar stories w/ similar non-responsive incidents.


What is a "multimedia app"?

Will you provide links to your website as well?


Get new lawyers.


Ugh. It's moments like this that make me, an Apple fan, really hate Apple.


Are you kidding me ? You know NONE of the facts. NONE.


I dont know any of the facts either, as Apple is refusing to disclose them or even talk to us about them. The problem is getting them to talk!


App names....


Company name, app names, etc...?


Can you please provide us with the link to your apps ?

If Apple Legal are involved then 99% of the time it is due to a third party filing a lawsuit against Apple because of something you've done e.g. violate trademarks. So you why do you think Apple has terminated your account ?

Now the other point is why are you representing small and large publishers ? Why don't they have their own developer accounts ? This is very unusual.


Its not at all unusual for third parties to develop apps for publishers and manage their sales channels. If you survey the education space, many publishers do this. Its just another way of handling the mobile space.

Our apps have been taken down, so there is no way to link to them unfortunately.

We have occasionally gotten frivolous claims for TM infringement, which we attempt to clean up quickly (If you have a lot of apps, you'll know that you get targeted by random individuals with no case). We were in the middle of an especially tenacious individual who was fraudulently claiming we were using a name he did not have a TM on. As our lawyers were trying to solve the problem, we were shut down.


What was the name of the app? (Some of us have access to historical iTunes data.) Alternatively, you mention you are also on other devices; links?


Seriously, they'll begin to lose credibility here if you don't list your apps and link to some web-presence


I dont want to reveal my company publically yet. I can contact any via chrishnhelp@gmail.com


“Our apps have been taken down, so there is no way to link to them unfortunately.”

Are you saying none of these apps have promotional websites?


And this comes to you as a surprise how exactly? Oh you thought you can hand over control over your distribution channel entirely to another entity, over whose decisions and actions you have exactly zero control or recourse, and you expected not to get screwed? Right.


What a wildly unhelpful and rude comment.


You're right, but so is pyalot. It seems like there's at least one complaint on HN every week about some developer getting nuked by some platform they've tied themselves to; Apple this week, Twitter last week, Facebook, Google ...

To me it's roughly equivalent to weekly complaints from sysadmins that their servers got rooted because they left root remotely accessible with a password of "root". Sympathy quickly gives way to, "well, that sucks, but you should know better."

You tied your sole source of revenue to a company known for its capriciousness. The advantage was that you got access to a huge distribution channel, and a chance at a lot of money. The disadvantage was that one day your number might come up and since you have absolutely no negotiating power or legal leverage with that company, you'll be out of options pretty quick -- unless you're lucky enough to find somebody who cares to solve your problem for you.

So your business plan should reflect that. Either charge high enough margins that you can afford to take six months to a year off after something like this to work on the next thing, or don't do it in the first place.

I'll usually keep this to myself because I really don't want to shit on someone that's having a bad day already. But, these stories are also getting really old fast.


Reality is a harsh and and rude place.




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