BlueMail Returns to Mac App Store, Developers Still Suing Apple Over Anticompetitive Behavior [Updated]

Back in October, the developers behind email app BlueMail sued Apple, alleging that the "Hide My Email" feature of "Sign in with Apple" infringes on its patented technology. The complaint also accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior, including removing BlueMail from the Mac App Store.


Last week, after months of making little to no progress with Apple towards having its Mac app reinstated, BlueMail co-founders Ben Volach and Dan Volach penned an open letter to the developer community that encouraged any developers who feel that Apple has kicked them out of the App Store or otherwise treated them unfairly to reach out to them and share their stories.

Just days later, the BlueMail app has returned to the Mac App Store. In a press release, BlueMail parent company Blix said it has no intention of dropping its legal case against Apple, which it believes extends beyond the removal of BlueMail on the Mac App Store to the "suppression of its iOS app and the infringement of Blix's patented technology through 'Sign in with Apple.'"

"We're happy that users can once again get BlueMail through the Mac App Store, but we know this isn't the end. Our experience has shown that until the app review process includes effective checks and balances, Apple holds too much power over small developers." said Ben Volach, co-founder at Blix. "One solution could be to include external independent members and observers in Apple's App Review Board, just as a public company's Board of Directors represents its shareholders."

"When we wrote to Tim Cook in November, we heard back in hours. When we wrote to Apple's developer community, BlueMail was back on the App Store within a week," said Dan Volach, co-founder at Blix. "If you're out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works. To Apple, we want to reiterate that all we want for developers is an opportunity to be treated fairly."

Update: Apple has shared the following statement with MacRumors, noting that BlueMail had "refused" its help and that the App Store Review Guidelines apply evenly to all developers:

Blix's mail app is currently available on the iOS App Store and they have a brand new communications app available on the Mac App Store. We have attempted on multiple occasions to assist them in getting their BlueMail app back on the Mac App Store. They have refused our help. The App Store has a uniform set of guidelines, equally applicable to all developers, that are meant to protect users. Blix is proposing to override basic data security protections which can expose users’ computers to malware that can harm their Macs and threaten their privacy.

Apple says Blix submitted a revised version of the BlueMail app late last week with an updated binary respecting Gatekeeper, leading to the app being reinstated on the Mac App Store on Monday. Apple says revised app submitted for review was different than what they previously submitted.

Top Rated Comments

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8 months ago
Good for Apple calling Blix out on their BS statement, which implied that Apple caved after Blix rallied support from the developer community. “If you're out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works.” Yeah right. Eff you Volach.

Their original app violated Gatekeeper and Apple yanked it. They submitted an updated app and it was approved. Submitting a compliant app works, imagine that.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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8 months ago
If you don't like the App Store rules, don't use the App Store. Plenty of software hosted outside the App Store. Not saying Apple shouldn't change some rules for the App Store but your App doesn't need to be on the App Store.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago

I would not just close the door to a big business of my field just because Apple decides to play a bully

Except that apparently Apple was blocking the app due to the fact it was trying to circumvent Gatekeeper, and then tried to assist the developers in making their app compliant, assistance they refused.

Sounds more like "perfectly reasonable" than "bully" to me. And Apple is not "all-powerful", as stated it is completely possible to sell ones apps outside the App Store.

"When we wrote to Tim Cook in November, we heard back in hours. When we wrote to Apple's developer community, BlueMail was back on the App Store within a week," said Dan Volach, co-founder at Blix. "If you're out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works. To Apple, we want to reiterate that all we want for developers is an opportunity to be treated fairly."

Sorry Dan, but you lost me at "self-righteous crusader". You aren't whistle-blowing a lead water pipe scandal, you were trying to sell a non-compliant app piggybacking on another business.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago


One solution could be to include external independent members and observers in Apple's App Review Board, just as a public company's Board of Directors represents its shareholders.

I think Walmart should be forced to do this too then. They won't sell my physical goods in their stores. They just hold too much control over what items they are allowed to sell in their own stores! :rolleyes:
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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8 months ago
They took what looks like an actually nice piece of software off the store out of what looks like spite, when they should be happy to have any quality software in the rummage sale known as the Mac App Store.

Bringing the iOS app store model to the Mac has ruined good software development on the Mac.

iOS software mentality is that the app is either free or very cheap, it is single purpose, and there are no trials.

And that's what the Mac App Store has now. Junk. There's so much stuff on there that should have never gotten through and that would not exist in the pre-App Store web-based distribution model.

I was looking for an EvoCam replacement on the App Store the other day, and there are so many apps. But it's just junkware. EvoCam was the type of app that was quintessentially Mac. I see less and less of it.

How does Apple hassle this company yet so many scammy anti-virus and memory optimizer type tools are on the App Store that are not relevant to how Macs work?

Honestly a lot of App Store offerings look like products from people just learning to code. They're inelegant and contain misspellings, and they're not the type of vibrant software I used to see in the open web market for Mac apps which seems to be shrinking.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago


Exactly. If Apple opens up the system to allow installs from other locations, it frees them from the anti-trust/monopoly issues of the App Store. I believe it's just a matter of time before they're forced to do this, most likely in the EU first, but then everywhere else will follow.

maybe, but you are under no obligation to buy Apple products, if you listen to the roboboys, Android is so much better anyway, just go Android and install apps from everywhere, or retain security and priivacy in a managed environment. It would be an interesting development to define a non-essential product (iPhone) produced in the private market and determine it is a public good subject to regulation. But times are getting weird


Huge difference though. Walmart not selling your product doesn't prevent their customers from buying your product from BestBuy. But Apple prevents their customers from being able to buy your product from BestBuy or anywhere else. If Apple starts allowing their customers (iPhone/iPad users) to install apps purchased from other stores, then they can reject whatever apps they want from their own store. But if they continue to insist that no one is allowed to install apps from elsewhere, then they have a duty to allow all legal software into their store.

nonsense, you are not forced to buy an Apple product, you can easily buy an Android product. If you choose to market your product to the iPhone community, then there is an expectation that you use some standards of privacy and security.


I get blue when Apple breaks macOS mail in updates. They need competition.

hmmm. are you somehow implying that there are no competing mail products for either Macs or iOS? That is just not correct. There are many, many, many, many.....oh and you can also use browser based mail products. Perhaps I missed your point?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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