Yesterday, Apple pulled Tether.com’s iPhone app – iTether after briefly allowing it in the App Store. iTether allowed users to use their iPhone’s data connection to surf the internet on a Mac or PC over USB.
Tether has published a post on their blog in a response to Apple’s decision to ban their tethering app.
We were not surprised by the ban as Apple has previously banned such applications from the App Store possibly due to pressure from carriers like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint who offer tethering plans for $20 per month that can be used using the Personal Hotspot feature that is available for iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS users. In the case of iTether users have to pay only a one-time fee of $14.99, which is the cost of the app and no recurring fees. So tethering apps like iTether allow users to save quite a bit in the long term, while carriers end up losing incremental revenues.
Around 12PM EST, Apple called our head office to let us know they were going to go ahead and pull our app iTether from the App Store. They stated it was because the app itself burdens the carrier network, however they offered us no way to remedy the solution… We were very clear when listing the app what the primary function was and they even followed up with several questions and requested a video demo then they approved the application.
We strongly disagree that it burdens a carrier’s network, as from our own data history on more than 500,000 users we know the average user consumes less than 200 MBs of data per month on Tether. In comparison, one TV show streamed from Netflix, an approved Apple App, could easily be in the 300-400 MBs range. Sure, there are some users that will consume way more than the average however that’s the case with any of these types of products.
Our team is very disappointed in Apple’s decision; as we strongly believe we help carriers better monetize their data stream by pushing customers into new data tiers further increasing their bottom-line. It is very anti-competitive to not allow any Tethering application to enter into this space to innovate. Our team has created a lot of innovative solutions for the BlackBerry product, which we were hoping to port over to the iPhone like end-to-end encryption, compression, website filtering and port filtering.
According to Apple, users who purchase iTether before it was pulled will continue to be able to use the product.
Our team is evaluating all of our options… Stay tuned.
It will be interesting to see if Tether will release the iPhone app on Cydia – the unofficial app store for such banned apps and jailbreak tweaks. Even if Tether decides to released the banned iPhone app on Cydia, it will have to compete with jailbreak apps like MyWi available on Cydia that transforms your iPhone into a wireless hotspot.
It is unfortunate that carriers are charging users for the tethering option, ideally you should be able to use the data the way you want as you’ve paid for it and iPhone users should be able to use iOS’ Personal hotspot feature for free without the need to even buy apps like iTether or go through the trouble of jailbreaking their iPhone to install jailbreak apps like Wi-Fi.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.
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