“Bitcoin users, we need your help. We need you to take a stand against Apple, make noise, complain, and show Apple that there will be consequences to their actions.”
That is the call issued by Blockchain, a popular Bitcoin wallet service that was unceremoniously stripped from the App Store today. In response, users have gone so far as to smash their iPhones in protest of what are being seen as monopolistic practices by Apple.
Blockchain was the last in a line of bitcoin wallet apps removed from Apple’s iOS software store, and with its death many fear the iPhone maker is lending a hand in attempting to kill off the decentralized cryptocurrency.
According to the app’s makers, Apple made no attempts at contact and offered neither an opportunity to correct any issues that might violate the App Store’s terms of service nor an explanation as to why Blockchain was removed. Other apps that have met the same fate include Coinbase, Gliph, and CoinJar.
Blockchain calls the move an attempt to “strike a devastating blow to the Bitcoin ecosystem,” noting that the apps removal affects 120,000 users who were otherwise entirely satisfied with the wallet service provided. While that number is a small chunk of some 2.5 million Bitcoin users, Blockchain sees Apple’s decision as a strike against competitive currencies.
A thread found on Reddit takes things a bit further. It’s the source of several smashed iPhones, a direct outcry against Apple’s decision. User round-peg offered to donate an Android-based Nexus 5 to any user willing to smash their iPhone in response to Bitcoin’s apparent ban from the ecosystem. So far, at least five iPhone expats have followed though.
Apple has a history of strictly policing the App Store, but what makes this case different is that Blockchain had been available for over two years without incident. The decision to remove the app is being called a direct reaction to the growing popularity of Bitcoin.
Is Apple in the wrong? The company never claimed that its product would be free and open. Their motives, too, may be only in their own interest, wishing to more closely control the flow of money on their devices. With a focus on a mobile payment platform a priority this year, Apple will want its users using their official system, spending money that is filtered through iTunes accounts with a percentage siphoned off the top for the company coffers.
Sadly, Bitcoin (and other emerging digital currencies, for that matter) will suffer theses consequences. While other retailers have happily embraced the new form of payment, it seems Apple sees little value in it. The only option, in Apple’s mind, for those invested in the Bitcoin ecosystem is to get out. If that means smashing a few iPhones, so be it.