Puffin Browser for iOS to shut down next month, the latest company to criticize Apple’s monopolistic App Store practices

The company says Apple won't let them update their app so they're going to close it down.


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The Puffin browser for iOS is shutting down on July 1, the company developing it, CloudMosa, has confirmed. The browser, that launched in 2010, will continue to be available on Google's Android and on other platforms – but its days in Apple's App Store are numbered, thanks allegedly to the tech giant's policies.

Or, as CloudMosa CEO Shioupyn Shen put it back in January 2018, thanks to Apple's “behavioral issues.”

Now, CloudMosa is accusing Apple of preventing them from releasing updates to the browser through the App Store, rendering the app's further existence effectively impossible, as it cannot stay up to date with the latest technologies.

Apple's motivation? According to CloudMosa, Apple is unfairly leveraging its absolute control over the App Store to undermine a product they see as a rival, by preventing the company behind it from updating the software.

And CloudMosa blamed the decision to pull the plug on Puffin for iOS on Apple seeing them as a rival and unfairly preventing them from updating the software.

The browser's claim to fame was bringing back support for Adobe Flash to Apple's mobile devices, after the giant outlawed the technology, along with being very speedy, thanks to the tech model of transferring workloads from devices themselves to cloud-based servers.

If this doesn't sound like a great idea, the makers of Puffin assured that their servers were encrypted and that the browser was safe even when used to access the web public WiFi hotspots – something that is otherwise a very bad idea without a VPN in place.

And, the mobile company had also set up Puffin Academy, said to be used by about ten million elementary and middle school students.

All this made Puffin a popular app – with 50 million users on iOS, and 50 million more on Android, according to CloudMosa. But the relationship with Apple, more specifically, the company's often controversial App Store policies, has now soured to the point of no return.

The CloudMosa announcement also noted that the paid version of the browser will continue to receive support for an unspecified amount of time after July 1.

The January 2018 post penned by CEO Shioupyn Shen sheds some more light on the clash with the giant but also paints a broader picture of Apple's App Store policies that have often been seen so shady as to cross to the territory of malicious intent.

He mentions the “BatteryGate” – when Apple decided to deliberately degrade the performance of older iPhones. The company said at the time this was done via an update in order to prevent rampant phone crashings. But Shen said the motive was simply to force customers to upgrade to brand new phones.

He further accused Apple of monopolistic behavior, oblivious to US laws, with the App Store used as a hammer to hurt competition – and ultimately, the consumer.

Shen declares the Puffin browser as one of Apple's victims, explaining how a relatively small project could ever be seen as a threat and a rival to one of the richest companies in the world. Allegedly, it has to do with Apple being very keen on promoting its own WebKit-based Safari browser and keeping billions in search money out of the hands of Google and browsers based on its technology, Chromium.

In fact, in early 2018, Apple said that a new release of Puffin was rejected because “apps that browse the web must use the appropriate WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript.” Needless to say, Puffin is based on Chromium, and it's server-side model provided little protection.

Shen accused Apple point-blank of illegal, monopolistic behavior, called the company out for abusing both developers and customers – and called on the government to step in and reign in the giant.

It's now over a year later, and it seems that Puffin has fallen victim to what is an ongoing war between Apple and Google, where there is little to no regard to smaller players.

But some big players, too, have felt wronged by the App Store. For example, Spotify, the world's leading music streaming service, who earlier this year accused Apple of deliberately undermining competition to its own music streaming business, Apple Music. Spotify took its grievance all the way to the EU, filing an official complaint about what it said were Apple's anti-competitive policies.

Social media platform Gab also recently filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice over Apple's App Store practices.

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]
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