Qihoo 360's headquarters in Beijing. (Photo/CFP)
Apple on Monday removed all apps from Chinese internet company Qihoo 360 from its App Store, the first time all the apps from an individual company have been banished.
Seven of Qihoo 360's apps, covering mobile security, internet browsing, group-buying, a group-buying guide, messaging, battery life and system backup were removed from the App Store. Apple has cracked down on copycat apps since January to prevent consumers from being confused by apps with similar names to other popular programs. Apple now threatens to close a developer's account if it is found using illegal methods to boost its rating and visibility on the App Store, according to the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily.
Qihoo 360 blamed the removal of its apps on its old local rival Tencent, which provides China's most popular instant messaging service, and antivirus software firm Duba, calling on its users not to believe the rumors the two companies have spread, the newspaper reported. Tencent stressed its innocence in the case and said that it was Apple who decided to remove the apps, urging Qihoo to take responsibility for its own problems.
Xiang Ligang, the CEO of Chinese telecom solution and service provider cctime, speculated that the removal of Qihoo's apps may have been caused by its competitors, or because of copyright infringement or illegal promotion on Qihoo's part that pushed up these apps' rankings. Qihoo's mobile security app might also be a cause since it could involve sensitive information that Apple did not want to be handled by the Chinese company, the report said.
The most likely reason however is Qihoo's partnership with Chinese smartphone platform developer 91, which has produced a platform that manages the apps and services of a smartphone and is very similar to Apple's App Store, Xiang said. Tencent produced a similar app in the past but used a name that was not related to the company so that when the app was blocked, other Tencent apps were not affected.
An app developer interviewed by Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald said Qihoo's apps were blocked because the company planted a program to allow it to access a user's computer or data without their consent, compromising their security.
Qihoo 360 奇虎360
Xiang Ligang 項立剛