As quickly as it came, iTether has disappeared from Apple’s App Store. The app raised eyebrows because it offered iPhone to laptop wireless data connection sharing that bypassed cell service provider’s expectation that customers pay extra for tethering services.
iTether didn’t last long at the App Store
Tethering shares the 3G wireless data connection from a cell phone with your computer for Internet access when Wi-Fi and Ethernet networks aren’t available. Many iPhone owners that want to take advantage of tethering without paying for the feature resort to jailbreaking and installing unauthorized third-party apps.
The quick removal of iTether isn’t much of a surprise since sidestepping carrier service plans doesn’t sit well with companies like AT&T and Verizon, and Apple has a track record showing it blocks apps that are known to offer tethering features.
Tether, the company that makes iTether, offered their take on the app’s removal by stating:
Around 12PM EST, Apple called our head office to let us know they were going to go ahead and pull our app iTether from the App Store. They stated it was because the app itself burdens the carrier network, however they offered us no way to remedy the solution… We were very clear when listing the app what the primary function was and they even followed up with several questions and requested a video demo then they approved the application.
We strongly disagree that it burdens a carrier’s network, as from our own data history on more than 500,000 users we know the average user consumes less than 200 MBs of data per month on Tether. In comparison, one TV show streamed from Netflix, an approved Apple App, could easily be in the 300-400 MBs range. Sure, there are some users that will consume way more than the average however that’s the case with any of these types of products.
The company added that it is disappointed in the decision to pull the app and that it sees iTether as a useful tool for cell service providers since it can push subscribers into purchasing larger data packages, which translates into more money.
Apple told Tether that users who purchased iTether before it was pulled from the App Store won’t be blocked from using the app. Of course, users may still have to deal with unhappy carriers that want more money for using tethering services.
Exactly what comes next for Tether is still up in the air. “Our team is evaluating all of our options,” they said. “Stay tuned.”
[Updated with statement from Tether.]