Free iPhone application for bike scheme withdrawn

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A FREE iPhone application for users of Dublin’s bicycle rental scheme has been withdrawn after the software firm which developed it was threatened with legal action by the advertising agency backing the new initiative.

The real-time application allows users of the scheme to find their nearest Dublinbikes station and see how many bicycles and spaces are available at it.

Fusio, the company behind the application, was sent a cease and desist letter from JC Decaux earlier this week in which it was told that legal action would be considered if it continued to offer the mobile application for download.

The application, which was only released at the end of August, has proven to be highly successful, with some 3,000 downloads over the past three weeks, making it one of the most popular Irish applications available at the iTunes AppStore.

More than 6,000 people have subscribed to the Dublinbikes scheme, which was introduced on September 15th. The initiative is being funded by JC Decaux in exchange for advertising space in the capital.

Fusio’s application uses data which is freely available on the Dublinbikes website. This is then plotted on to Google Maps. The application uses the iPhone’s built-in GPS to allow users to get up-to-the minute information on the availability of bikes. Additional data used in the application was provided by Dublin City Council.

Fusio insists it sought permission to use data from JC Decaux prior to releasing the application.

Diarmaid Mac Aonghusa, Fusio managing director, said the company had decided to produce the application solely as a development project to draw attention to its ability to develop similar applications for clients.

“We were offering the application for free and had received a number of phone calls from members of the public congratulating us on it, which is something that rarely happens in the IT world. So we’d obviously developed an application which was proving to be popular. However, when we were advised that legal action was possible, we felt we had no option to withdraw the application.”

Although iPhone users who have already downloaded the application will still be able to use it, it is no longer available for download at the AppStore and no updates will be provided in future.

A spokesperson for JC Decaux said the company had no comment to make regarding the cease and desist letter.

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