Apple's recent removal of the iOS app Blockchain, a digital wallet for the virtual currency Bitcoin, from the iTunes App Store raises some interesting questions. Note that all major currencies are "fiat money" and Bitcoin, less a government's support, is no more or less "real" than the dollar or the pound.
Apple took this course of action because of what the company termed an "unresolved issue" which is much like saying "we're not going to tell you" and, interestingly, Blockchain was the last of the Bitcoin wallet apps to be summarily killed off by Apple.
Why does this matter? Because Apple is, without a shadow of a doubt, in a monopolistic position when it comes to iOS apps. There comes a point where a company gets so big and so powerful in controlling its market that its actions have to be evaluated from the perspective of what serves the public good rather than what serves the interests of shareholders.
We broke up Standard Oil and Ma Bell for the reason that their interests conflicted with the public good so why is it so hard to consider that Apple isn't serving the US public? Or, for that matter, the international public?
Blockchain was in the iTunes App Store for more than two years and had racked up some 120,000 downloads so obviously there was a huge interest in the software but Apple, with the flimsiest of rationales, apparently decided that something was wrong ... but what could that be?
Some think that something could be the currently unresolved legal status of Bitcoin but that is, quite obviously, nonsense. Until a court hands down a judgement that makes the currency illegal or a law is passed that, irrationally, makes Bitcoin legally problematic there is no concrete legal reason to reject Bitcoin wallet apps.
I think it more likely that Apple's problem with anything to do with Bitcoin is a misguided idea that the currency impacts Apple's potential hegemony with online payments.
Whatever the reason Apple has to be reined in and their unexplained and capricious decisions over what apps can and cannot be in the App Store needs to be put on a more rational footing.
When you get as big as Apple has become there's a higher calling that you have to answer to and blatant self-interest and market dominance isn't it.