Feeds

Apple kicks China's most popular browser out of iTunes

Bans Qihoo apps from its store ...

Boost IT visibility and business value

Qihoo, maker of the most popular web browser in China, has had all of its products kicked out of iTunes, though it's far from clear which breach of the rules is responsible.

The company's web browser, security suite and instant-messaging client have all disappeared from the Chinese iTunes store, leaving the company with with no presence on iOS at all, and struggling to get information about which of Apple's rules it might have breached. But given the tactics previously employed by Qihoo there's not shortage of possiblities.

Earlier this year Qihoo proudly announced that its "360 Safe Browser" was outranking Microsoft's Internet Explorer in China, despite being on the market for only three years and coming from a company whose previous experience was in anti-virus software, but many allege that the market share had been achieved using tactics which would embarrass Google and make Phorm look positively benign.

Qihoo used to sell anti-virus software, but has embraced online advertising with all the enthusiasm of the newly converted. In 2008 it started giving away its anti-virus software solely to promote the newly-launched browser, which is also free but comes with a home page on which the company sells advertising. Those ads brought in $35.1m in the last three months of 2011 alone – but it is the tactics used to promote the browser which have attracted such attention.

Qihoo's free anti-virus package, for example, will pop up every time a user clicks on any URL outside the browser, reminding them that by not using the company's "360" browser they are putting their safety at risk. The software also appends the same information to security alerts from IE, reminding the user how much safer they'd be if only they'd eschew Microsoft's web-browsing technology.

Once installed, the Qihoo browser will live alongside alternatives, but it won't allow them to become the default browser, and getting rid of 360 presents a formidable challenge – click "Change to IE9" and the 360 browser will reinstall itself and reaffirm its default position. Even if the browser is removed entirely, many users report that their internet access never works properly again.

Last year the company's CEO was explicit enough to make Amazon blush:

We have exploited our big share in the browser market by inserting an intelligent tracking program into our browsers that can track the habits and hobbies of each individual user, and then re-route links that suit the user’s interest to the home page of the browser. That will increase the effectiveness of our advertisements.

No wonder Facebook is nervous about entering the Chinese market.

We don’t know what Qihoo has done to upset Apple exactly, though there seem plenty of options. The company's iOS products are still available from its own website – for jailbroken iPhones – but that's common in China where the iPhone arrived long before iTunes. However, it is in breach of Apple's T&Cs, so this could provide an excuse for kicking out a company which Apple just didn't want involved with its flagship product.

Qihoo told the Penn Olson blog that it is waiting to hear from Apple, but Cupertino always reserves the right to refuse an explanation, even to the maker of the most-popular browser in China. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.