Source: SlideShare

According to several reports coming out of Iran, the Cupertino-based giant has allegedly begun removing iOS applications originating from the developers and startups of the country. Before this, the tech giant Apple Inc. had opened up its App Store to Iranians in a limited manner in September 2016 to people from Iran and since then, the smartphone maker is appearing to lift some of the limitations periodically.

Iran is a lucrative market for Apple, here’s why

Digikala, the largest Iranian e-commerce service, which has millions of users worldwide, had its app removed just a few days ago from the App Store, according to credible tech news site Techrasa. There is no official App Store available for the territory of Iran but there are several companies that have registered their applications as being outside of Iran to get onto the App store.

In theory, Digikala does not contravene the terms and conditions of the tech giant as it uses the Shaparak payment system that is completely isolated from international systems. Additionally, several banks in Iran have applications for the iOS platform as well. These iOS apps are frequently side-loaded onto phones.

The people of Iran are gadget lovers, with an estimated 40 million smartphones in the country, of which there are around 6 million iPhones. The population of the country is around 82 million, with an average age of below 30 years old. According to reports, around 100,000 iPhones are smuggled into Iran every month. This obviously results in an equally large market for accessories and after-sale services. This means that if the iPhone maker could engage with the market fully, they would find it a very profitable one.

Apple sends a statement to Iranian startups attempting to upload apps

The Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, however, puts a block on this market. The tech giant has sent a short statement to Iranian startups that are trying to upload applications, according to Techrasa. The statement reads, “Unfortunately, there is no App Store available for the territory of Iran. Additionally, apps facilitating transactions for businesses or entities based in Iran may not comply with the Iranian Transactions Sanctions Regulations (31CFR Part 560) when hosted on the App Store.”

The Cupertino-based smartphone maker further adds, “For these reasons, we are unable to accept your application at this time. We encourage you to resubmit your application once international trade laws are revised to allow this functionality.” The Silicon Valley giant was not immediately available for comment but we will update this post when they do comment on the matter.