iPhone tethering app maker accuses Apple of bait-and-switch

Claims Apple knew exactly what iTether was up to before it approved the app

The developers of an iPhone tethering app pulled from the App Store earlier today accused Apple of using bait-and-switch tactics.

"Around 12 p.m. EST, Apple called to let us know they were going to pull our app iTether from the App Store," said 3235106 Nova Scotia Ltd., the firm behind the app, in a statement published on its website. "They stated it was because the app itself burdens the carrier network."

iTether, a $14.99 app that let users share the iPhone's cellular connection to the Internet with a Mac or Windows notebook, launched late on Monday but was yanked from the App Store about 12 hours later.

Users were also required to install a free client application on their Mac or Windows notebook, which could then access the Web outside a Wi-Fi hotspot when an iTether-equipped iPhone was connected to the computer via a USB cable.

3235106 Nova Scotia Ltd. essentially said Apple pulled a fast one.

"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," said the Canadian company in its statement. "Then they approved the application."

3235106 Nova Scotia Ltd. said it was "very disappointed in Apple's decision" and accused the Cupertino, Calif. company of anti-competitive behavior.

"It is very anti-competitive to not allow any tethering application to enter into this space," the firm said, then added, "Our team is evaluating all of our options," a possible hint that it might seek legal action.

3235106 Nova Scotia Ltd. could not be reached for further comment. Apple did not reply to a request for comment.

The iTether maker also disputed Apple's contention that the app would overload mobile carriers' networks.

"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 200MB of data per month on Tether," said 3235106 Nova Scotia Ltd., referring to the name for its tethering apps for Android- and BlackBerry-based devices.

"We help carriers better monetize their data stream by pushing customers into new data tiers further increasing their bottom-line," the company added.

Users who had downloaded the iTether app prior to Apple's booting it from the App Store will be able to continue to tether their Mac or Windows notebooks to their iPhones, 3235106 Nova Scotia Ltd. also confirmed.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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