- An email app created by developers who have accused Apple and Google of unfair treatment in the past was only launched a few days after their developers went public about their collaboration with lawmakers in an ongoing antitrust investigation from their Play Store started.
- "If this is not retaliation for our role in the Congress hearing, what is it?" Blix co-founder Ben Volach tweeted on Friday.
- The company's BlueMail app had been available on the Google Play Store for six years before the co-founders were informed of the app's blocking on Friday morning.
- Blix was kicked out of the Apple App Store in 2018. Apple later launched an email product that resembled BlueMail and prompted the co-founders to file a lawsuit against the smartphone maker in 2019.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
Google launched an app from its Google Play store after its developers asked US lawmakers questions to use during Wednesday's antitrust hearing.
Blix co-founder Ben Volach, who created the blocked BlueMail app, tweeted the unveiling on Friday morning. The brothers Ben and Dave Volach both announced their cooperation with the antitrust investigation earlier this week Washington Post reported.
"If this is not retaliation for our role in the Congress hearing, what is it?" Volach tweeted. He also wrote: "Apple & Google need to be regulated. 2 gatekeepers to rule them all."
– Ben Volach (@benvol) July 31, 2020
In a screenshot of an email displayed by Business Insider, Google's Blix developers were informed that the BlueMail app has now been suspended after a recent review revealed that it "did not comply with one or more of our developer program policies". However, according to the company, they received a "zero notification", a move that is "far too random" considering that the app is six years old and took place so soon after the hearing.
"Google has suspended BlueMail either because we helped the House antitrust subcommittee prepare for the hearings, or because Google just launched a competitor for Blix, our BlueMail for Teams product," said co-founder Dan Volach in a Declaration sent by email. "Regardless, the fact that they have the power to throw you out of the store and cut your revenue streams without notice is preposterous."
The company told Business Insider that a "lite" version of the BlueMail app that customers rarely use is still active in the store because Google appears to have shut down only the heavyweight version.
Google later informed Blix, according to the Washington Post report, that the BlueMail app was suspended because the company found that it had copied another app.
"At the very least, they should explain what the problem is and not remove it until the weekend," said Ben Volach Business Insider in an interview.
Blix co-founders openly expressed their complaints about Apple and Google. They say the two companies treat the developers unfairly in their respective app stores.
"Apple and Google have no respect for their partners and they have too much control over our business," said Ben Volach in a statement sent to Business Insider. "It suppresses innovation and tells the developer that bringing new ideas to the store is not safe."
Google and Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comments.
Ahead of the hearing, Big Tech's treatment of third-party app developers was expected to be an important consideration, especially for Apple. According to Blix, Apple removed the BlueMail app from its own app store in 2018 before the global developer conference. Apple later introduced an email product that resembled BlueMail and caused Blix to file a lawsuit against Apple for patent and antitrust violations. The lawsuit is ongoing.
Apple informed Business Insider in an email that the BlueMail app is currently available in the Apple App Store.
"Any suggestion to manipulate the search algorithm is categorically wrong," the company said. "We offer all developers fair and equal competitive conditions on which they can compete."
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