Qihoo’s iOS Apps Reportedly Removed For Violating Apple’s Rules

According to multiple sources cited in a Tencent QQ Tech report (link via Google Translate, h/t Tech In Asia), Apple removed all of Qihoo’s apps from its App store last week for violating its terms of service. Qihoo said last week that it did not know the reason for the removals, which took place on January 26. In fact, the QQ Tech article claims that the apps were taken down manually, and there’s no timeline for their return–a situation so serious that Qihoo’s chief financial officer has reportedly flown over to the U.S. in an attempt to win back Apple’s favor.

While it’s important to note that Tencent, which publishes QQ Tech, is one of Qihoo’s competitors, the latter company has developed a reputation for using questionable business practices. Last week, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) issued a warning to Qihoo for unfair competition, citing anti-virus software used in its Internet browsers. Tech In Asia has the rundown of the the ways SAIC says Qihoo engaged in unfair competition.

Furthermore, this is the second time Qihoo has had its mobile apps taken down by Apple. The first time was almost exactly one year ago. Qihoo claimed then that the removals were a mix-up caused by its apps receiving unusually high numbers of positive/negative feedback by unknown sources, which triggered an automatic removal by the App Store.

While its apps quickly reappeared in the store last year, this time it’s more serious. Sources in Tencent’s report claim that Qihoo encouraged users to jailbreak iPhones, a boon because Qihoo often makes its apps available as single file downloads. (Its Android apps are unaffected). Not only that, but Qihoo also used banned APIs and repeatedly try to manipulate App Store rankings.

In a public statement, Qihoo said users who have already installed its apps aren’t affected and it is communicating with Apple to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

Qihoo has been emailed for comment.