Apple does not sell its products in Iran and an Iranian version of the Apple App Store doesn't exist, but smuggled iPhones are popular among wealthy Iranians. Apple has also removed shopping apps and those that provide other services to Iranian users.
"Under the United States sanctions regulations, the App Store can not host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain U.S. embargoed countries".
"When I inquired why only some Iranian apps have been targeted while hundreds (including some internationally known names) are still available on App Store, the Apple operator did not respond", Mehdi Nayebi, CEO of Alopeyk, one of Iran's leading parcel delivery services, told the Financial Tribune.
In reaction to Apple's decision, Iranian Telecommunication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted that Apple accounts for 11% of Iran's mobile phone market, even though the tech firm does not have an official presence in Iran or any other Persian Gulf country, according to the Associated Press. Those using abusive language or negative behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus. He added that Apple is not "respecting customer rights".
In the spirit of encouraging open access to information the Obama administration went as far as to pass measures to sanction technology companies which helped Iran - where Twitter and Facebook are banned - suppress internet communication. Digikala, an online e-commerce service, was one of many Iran-based iOS apps that were pulled in January.
Almost 4,000 people signed a petition by Friday demanding Apple stop removing Iranian apps from its App Store. His app was among those removed during the purge.
Apple's crackdown follows a similar wave of removals which targeted Chinese apps created to enable residents to evade censors and gain access to the global internet. Late last month, Apple began removing VPN apps from the China App Store, sharing with developers that it was due to illegal content being contained in the apps.
Thomas Erdbrink and Vindu Goel are New York Times writers.