Apple, the technology giant that revolutionized phones, music players and laptops, has taken down BlockChain (Figure 1), the last iPhone application used to buy and sell Bitcoins. Having been downloaded about 120,000 times from the App Store, the app was the only way iPhone users could buy or sell Bitcoins using their phones.
Many industry experts see this as a precautionary move to ensure the safety of the mobile payment system that Apple has been working on. Apple is known to be developing a ground-breaking mobile payment system, in spite of the millions of credit cards saved on file in its iTunes Store. Apple is reportedly working on a system in which the iPhone can be used directly to purchase goods and services offline. This will allow a lot of developers to start building snippets for Apple’s mobile payment system. Some venture capitalists see it as an alternative to the existing online payment system services such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express. This move however, is being debated in many forums and online video sites like YouTube.
As a result of Bitcoin apps being taken down from the Apple App Store, many investors and apple users have voiced their frustrations. One such apple user, Barry E. Silbert, the CEO of the New York based Second Market Inc., said, “I’m switching! Shopping for a new phone this weekend.” The reaction with other BlockChain users is far more extreme. Some of the users are destroying their iPhones and while doing so, posting their videos on YouTube. This shows the extent of following Bitcoin apps have!
Some of Apple’s loyalists say that Apple’s app policy requires an application to be legal everywhere it is used. But, some countries like India have questioned the legality of Bitcoins. The App Store is a huge entity by itself and has contributed about $10 billion to revenues for Apple in the year 2013. Unlike Google Play, every app in the Apple’s App Store undergoes an approval process before being listed on the App Store. So, one may argue that if it has been rejected now, then why was it approved in the first place?
Moreover, MyDoge, the first Dogecoin wallet app has been recently approved by the App Store. Also, BlockChain’s desktop application for the OS X can still be downloaded. This questions the real motives behind taking down the BlockChain mobile app. Is Apple coming up with an alternative payment system that physically uses the iPhone for goods purchases? Will Apple come up with proprietary software for this payment system? If so, then it could be a game changer for the sinking Apple ship, especially after the recent failures of iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S.
The market capitalization of Apple is about $450 billion, which is second to no other company in the world, let alone a tech company. With that kind of money, Apple is free to dominate any service it enters. Imagine Apple pumping in $1 billion into the Bitcoin market. How would it change the Bitcoin world? Only time would tell if Apple is taking down Bitcoin apps to infuse money into Bitcoins after the price is slashed or if Apple is killing down competition for its own mobile payment system that is in development.