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Apple Rejects Appeal of Email App That Blasted Store Rules

Mark Gurman

(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. has rejected an appeal from the email app Hey to remain available on the iPhone maker’s App Store, saying the software violated its rules related to in-app purchases.

Earlier this week, the app’s developers said that Apple turned down an update to the software because it violated App Store rules. The Hey email app requires users to sign up for an account outside of the app and doesn’t allow in-app subscriptions, which would require that Apple receive a 30% share of revenue.

Apple’s rules grant exceptions to some reader apps such as magazines, newspapers and music, allowing users to access previously purchased content and subscriptions on the app without an in-app sign-up feature. But Apple said Hey didn’t fall into that category, according to a letter sent to Hey’s developer, Basecamp, that was obtained by Bloomberg News.

“The Hey Email app is marketed as an email app on the App Store, but when users download your app, it does not work,” Apple said in the letter. “Users cannot use the app to access email or perform any useful function until after they go to the Basecamp website for Hey Email and purchase a license to use the Hey Email app.”

Basecamp Chief Technology Officer David Heinemeier Hansson, who developed the app, said on Twitter that “Apple doubles down on their rejection of HEY in the App Store, but adds some spice to it at the end: YOU UNGRATEFUL PEASANTS! No mention of how Basecamp differs, how Gmail differs, how Outlook differs, how Fastmail differs. Just more edicts from the monopoly king!”

Apple’s App Store has come under scrutiny from European regulators, who earlier this week opened an investigation into the company’s rules, saying developers may be harmed unfairly by the requirement to share app revenue. Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith on Thursday said it’s also time for U.S. regulators to examine “the rules that are being put in place, the prices and the tolls that are being extracted.”

Read more: Apple Under Fire from EU, Developers For Stringent App Rules

Apple also said in the letter that Basecamp apps have “not contributed any revenue to the App Store over the last eight years.” It suggested that Basecamp could add in-app purchase support for Hey subscriptions or allow users to configure their devices to have Hey Email as their preferred email service provider. “This would allow the app to function as an email client without requiring an additional payment to use its features and functionality,” Apple said.

(Updates with comments from developer in the fifth paragraph.)

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