Apple Shows Facebook Who Has The Power In An App Dispute
Brian|Feb. 02, 2019
When Facebook employees woke up Wednesday morning, many found they could not perform even the most basic work tasks.
Their calendars were not working. Nor were campus maps that help people find their co-workers. They were unable to check Facebook’s latest shuttle bus schedule. And they could not see what the company’s cafeterias were serving for lunch.
That’s because those features run on Facebook’s internal, custom-built iPhone apps — and Apple had shut them all down, according to nine current and former employees of the companies, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly.
The situation stemmed from a dispute after Facebook violated Apple’s rules by publicly distributing a research app that allowed it to snoop on users’ online activity.
When Apple discovered the transgression this week, it revoked Facebook’s special access to apps and updates that run on its iPhone software.
That immediately cut off Facebook’s 35,000 workers from its internal iPhone apps. And the problem snowballed when mobile apps like Workplace and Messenger — two internal communication tools — also stopped working, frustrating employees and resulting in hours of lost productivity.
Late Thursday, Apple relented and restored Facebook’s access. Yet the episode was a stark reminder of where the power really lies in the technology world.