Last week, BlueMail co-founders Ben Volach and Dan Volach penned an open letter that encouraged any developers who feel that Apple kicked them out of the App Store or has treated them unfairly to share their stories.
BlueMail itself was removed from the Mac App Store in June 2019 after Apple found the app to be in violation of several App Store Review Guidelines, but the Volach brothers disagreed and argued that Apple showed “little willingness to resolve the issue” and provided “shifting explanations” as to why the app was removed from the Mac App Store and why it could not be reinstated.
Apple has since responded to the matter, refuting many of BlueMail’s claims and noting that its App Store Review Guidelines apply evenly to all developers.
In a statement last week, shared with MacRumors, Apple said it “attempted on multiple occasions to assist them in getting their BlueMail app back on the Mac App Store,” but said “they have refused our help.” Apple added that BlueMail was “proposing to override basic data security protections which can expose users’ computers to malware that can harm their Macs and threaten their privacy.”
“When we wrote to Tim Cook in November, we heard back in hours. When we wrote to Apple’s developer community, BlueMail was back on the App Store within a week,” said Dan Volach, co-founder at Blix. “If you’re out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works. To Apple, we want to reiterate that all we want for developers is an opportunity to be treated fairly.”
Apple’s response, however, suggests that BlueMail refused to take the necessary steps for its app to be reinstated on the Mac App Store until now.
Specifically, Apple says its Developer Technical Support team advised the BlueMail team to make changes to how it package its Mac app in order to resolve a security and privacy warnings issue related to the app creating a new binary with a bundle ID that changes on each launch.
Apple says that BlueMail finally submitted a revised version of its app with an updated binary respecting Gatekeeper on February 7, two days after its open letter to developers. Apple says its App Review team found that the previous issues had been addressed, allowing it to return to the Mac App Store as of Monday.
Nevertheless, BlueMail parent company Blix today said it has no intention of dropping its legal case against Apple, which it believes extends beyond the removal of BlueMail on the Mac App Store to the “suppression of its iOS app” and the “infringement of Blix’s patented technology through ‘Sign in with Apple.'”
“We’re happy that users can once again get BlueMail through the Mac App Store, but we know this isn’t the end. Our experience has shown that until the app review process includes effective checks and balances, Apple holds too much power over small developers,” said Ben Volach, co-founder at Blix. “One solution could be to include external independent members and observers in Apple’s App Review Board, just as a public company’s Board of Directors represents its shareholders.”
BlueMail parent company Blix’s lawsuit against Apple, filed in October 2019, alleges that the “Hide My Email” feature of “Sign in with Apple” infringes on its patented technology. The complaint also accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior, including removing BlueMail from the Mac App Store at the time.