NDrive was a newcomer to the GPS game, and offered iOS buyers a deal; be one of the first, and get 1.8 GB of US map data for only $2.99.
The catch? Well, it appears NDrive may not have fully licensed the map data used in the application. And, they may not have licensed those price-shattering copies, Apple may have had to intervene.
The world’s largest technology company has readily admitted that every iOS device bears a kill switch to remove applications. Not to be unmatched by Google’s recent use of the Android Market kill switch (due to security concerns), Apple may have deployed the kill switch on promotional NDrive sales.
Multiple users, including PhoneNews.com staff, have reported that their copies of NDrive have vanished from both their iOS devices, as well as iTunes Libraries.
Apple has stayed silent on the matter, we contacted them before business Monday asking for comment. We have received no response from Apple as of today. To date, no user with a missing copy of NDrive USA has reported an explanation from iTunes Customer Service either.
NDrive Customer Service has sent the following response to multiple customers:
It has recently come to our attention that customers are experiencing difficulties with our iPhone navigation applications. Accordingly, NDrive acknowledges that our software listed in the Apple iTunes Store have been dissolved until further notice. We are currently working to address and improve the situation in an efficient manner. This issue has been assigned a maximum urgency level as we cannot inquire on the duration of our void from said markets. We are attentively listening and working hard to address all inquisitions submitted.
NDrive has not explained why, or if any explanation from Apple, was given for the removal. The absence of a technical explanation for NDrive’s removal does give more credence to a licensing issue for the initial versions. Other low-cost GPS solutions have relied on public map data that is historically less accurate. Google Maps Navigation, while free, relies on their own internal map data that the company acquired through acquisitions.
If this is indeed Apple’s first use of the iOS Kill Switch, it may give firepower to App Store opponents. Apple has not refunded customers for the purchases (aside from case by case manual requests). Amazon.com refunded buyers and remotely wiped digital copies of George Orwell’s novels from their Kindle devices, after finding that they were not licensed properly. Amazon.com acknowledged that the automatic removal, without prior notification to customers, was a mistake on their behalf.