Apple Caught Using Its App Store To Bully Rival Smartwatch Makers

Apple Caught Using Its App Store To Bully Rival Smartwatch Makers

Apple is notorious for playing hard ball with just about everyone and its treatment of rival smartwatch manufacturers appears to be no different, according to reports released late Wednesday.

The makers of the Pebble smartwatch, the world’s first, issued an update to customers that Apple is in no hurry to approve the latest bug-fixed version of the Pebble Time iOS app. Which is surely no coincidence, given Apple just released its own smartwatch in April month.

The reports sound just like the fight to bring real web browsers to the iPhone, with the Pebble team claiming the Apple App Store is stalling its approval of the Pebble Time software that connects the watch to their phones.

Apple used a similar strategy with popular web browser Firefox, using arcane rules and minor technicalities to justify holding up the release of the browser for years.

The company is waiting on approval for two distinct apps – a new app for the watch and an update to older app, which supports the first version of the Pebble Time.

“The Pebble Time iPhone app, as we’ve all noticed, is not yet live on the iTunes AppStore. It remains in review,” Pebble wrote in a blog post. It went on to say

We’re doing all we can to mitigate the delay and make Pebble Time Watch for iPhone available for download. We unfortunately cannot simply publish the original submission approved on May 18 due to quirks in the AppStore submission process and rules.

We considered adding Pebble Time support to the existing Pebble iPhone app. Sadly, that app also has a pending update—containing one bug fix—in Apple’s review process. Version 2.6.6 remains ‘in review’ now for 43 days and counting.

Pebble beat Apple to the smartwatch market by over two years, but has struggled to compete with the massive marketing budgets of Apple, Samsung and others, despite having what many regard to be a superior product. Pebble is the largest crowdfunded campaign in history, getting its start on popular site Kickstarter.

Apple has a long history of turning down apps that compete with its own products and removes any software from its App Store that links to a gadget that rivals its iPhones, iPads and iPods.

It will be interesting to see if this stance holds, given the flood of watches about to hit the market from Tag Heuer, Swatch, Samsung, LG and many others.