Has Google's love of users pushed away Developers?

Discussion in 'Android News' started by JohnDroid, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. JohnDroid
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    JohnDroid Guest

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    (This post was written by Michael Heller, you can visit his Blog at http://east73.com/)

    It’s no secret that Google has more respect for the common user than most companies. Few companies have leveraged user-generated content in the variety of ways that has Google, such as layers in Maps and all of the fun labs features in different products. But, has this focus on keeping the user happy alienated developers from the Android Market?

    Google has tried to make the Market a welcoming place for developers. Registration is a one time $25 fee, compared to a $99 yearly fee for Apple’s App Store. Plus, developers don’t have to go through a frustrating approval process. And, let’s not forget that Google is more than willing to look the other way if you want to profit off of someone else’s copyrighted [1] or trademarked [2] material.

    With consumers coming first, there are plenty of rules in the Android Market for their protection. For example, Google does not allowing a free version of an app [3] in the Market if the paid version can’t also be purchased in the Market. Developers may not like this, but at least they can probably understand that Google doesn’t want to give free advertisement, and also Google can’t verify the safety of a paid app in that scenario. Imagine a free app that is little more than a soundboard, but when you go to the developer’s site for the full version, it’s riddled with spyware. Rules like this make sense.

    A policy with less obvious reasoning is one I learned about because of a developer who had wanted to offer a one-day sale, [4] only to find that he couldn’t make his app paid again without delisting the app, then resubmitting. Apparenly, there is a rule in the Android Developer Agreement [5], which basically states that once you make an app free, it’s always free. Part of the reason for this is likely to prevent a bait-and-switch where you grab a free app only to suddenly find it costs money for an update. Or, it could be to prevent padding download numbers by making it seem like a paid app racked up the popularity instead of the free one. But, I believe another reason is to avoid a simple nuisance for the users. Imagine if you received a “purchase” e-mail for every app, paid or free, from the Android Market, or if every free app you’ve uninstalled stayed in your “downloads” list like they do with paid apps. It’s a small annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless, especially if you have a compulsion to try new apps like I do. Trust me, I received many e-mails like that from iTunes. And, in the occasion that I wanted to find a paid app that I had deleted, searching through those e-mails made me call Steve Jobs a few unchoice names.

    Another policy of the Android Market is the ability to return an app for a full refund for up to 24 hours. This is a huge selling point for users, and a luxury which would have saved me some money back when I was an iPhone user. But, not surprisingly, developers aren’t so fond of the policy. Trip Hawkins, the founder of Electronic Arts, who now runs mobile-gaming company Digital Chocolate, even went so far as to call the policy “senseless and lazy.” [6] Developers are incensed over this policy because they can no longer profit on impulse purchases like they can in Apple’s App Store. As a user, I can only see this policy as a good thing, because it forces developers to strive for quality instead of merely novelty.

    All of these little things that we as users don’t consider, or appreciate about the Android Market, can be extremely frustrating for developers, and worse, can cut into their revenues. Google needs to remember that happy users may be good for their brand, but happy developers keep the platform alive.


    References: [1][2] AppBrain [3] Android Developer Group [4] Android Developer Group [5] Android [6] Bloomberg
  2. beckx020
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    beckx020 New Member

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    Some of the apps for 99 cents I could deal with if they didn't work out. But more and more apps are $2-$5 now. Since there is no review process and most of the comments make no sense, I'm glad there is a 24 hour period to return the app. Also, some apps that work well on one phone don't work on another. The 24 hour gives people a chance to be sure it will work for them.

    You think that is bad for the developer? No. You should only end up with happy customers that recommend your app.

    When I've been really happy with an app, I will donate more because I think it's worth it. I know "most" of the people in the world are out to rip everyone else off. And perhaps that's where your comment on the impulse buys from the Apple market come in. I think it's sad.

    As for games, I can't play 99% of them on my Droid. At least the free ones I can't. So I'm sure not going to buy one that I can't play. At least with the refund policy, I can actually try the game to see if I can play it.

    I think the Google policy is fair. And the market should be driven by users, not developers.
  3. JohnDroid
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    JohnDroid Guest

    I have to agree, I think the policy is fair and I hope Google continues it. Users shouldn't have to chalk up a "non working app" or "bad app" to a bad purchasing decision.

    The App developer shouldn't be able to profit off of bad software or "accidental" purchases... so I think it's a good policy and iTunes should adopt it.
  4. Corinacakes
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    Corinacakes DF Super Moderator Theme Developer

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    What do you mean you can't play 99% of games on your droid? What games?? What droid? I'm wicked confused about this.

    Here's some games I've played that are awesome:

    Mystique 1, 2 and 3 (friggin awesome game)
    Tower Raiders
    Homerun Battle
    Muncher
    Zilch
    Angry birds
    SNES
    Gameboid
    Solitaire Multi
    Jewels
    SuperYatzy

    I could go on but I'm pressed for time.

    Please list the games you've tried that don't work. If I see bad reviews I just don't even try the game but I think the game market has really come a long ways since I got an android phone back in November.
  5. johnomaz
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    johnomaz Well-Known Member

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    Sadly, developers are driven by $$, not a sense of satisfaction for having a good app.

    I bought an app that has a very misleading description. Its called Pandemonium and it read like it accessed your iTunes library and streamed it over 3G for you. It does nothing of the sort. I got a refund about an hour later.
  6. johnomaz
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    johnomaz Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. I have yet to find a game that I can't play and haven't bought any yet. But i will as soon as Angry Birds goes full/paid.
  7. importune
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    importune Theme Developer Theme Developer

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    The policy is fantastic. The lazy senselessness comes in from the developers end. Get your act together and produce a product that we'll actually want to keep on our phones.
  8. takeshi
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    takeshi New Member

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    Calling the policy "senseless and lazy" is sensless and lazy. Develop a good app and I'll pay for it. I mean, I spent $20 on Touchdown.
  9. furbearingmammal
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    furbearingmammal DF Super Moderator

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    Why am I not surprised that a game company founder would complain about the possibility of people returning shoddy merchandise for a full refund? And getting incensed because you can't sell people something they don't want after trying it? For crying out loud, even netbook makers let you play with the castrated version of [expletive deleted] Windows 7 they're pushing on their toys before demanding money.

    If I couldn't read part of a book in a book store before plunking down the cash to walk out the door with it I wouldn't buy books ever. Same principle applies. You want sales for a paid app? Offer a limited free version, with ads, and you'll get paid for the people who are happy with that AS WELL as selling more games/apps. Period.
  10. Martin030908
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    Martin030908 DF Super Moderator

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    The 24-hr return policy is great.

    Much like you have an option in any store to return an impulse purchase, your Market experience should be no different.

    Apple has no return policy because they're EVIL :icon_evil:
  11. Dragon3463
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    Dragon3463 New Member

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    If they have this so-called respect for their customers. then they need to release software when said and not keep putting the dates off.. and give an exact date and not an estimate time frame
  12. AngDroid
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    AngDroid Premium Member Premium Member Developer

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    If a developer is happy with his/her app then they should not be worried about the return rate...if they are looking to make money from an impulse buy maybe their app is not so great and they should worry more about making it better.

    The one thing I do not like is how one can copy the app, return it and then install it again for free. Google needs to fix this loophole.
  13. accellpo
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    accellpo New Member

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    According to checkout, I have about 76 paid apps, themes, and games, totaling over $200. I would be out of a lot more money without the refund policy. Trip Hawkins can kiss my a$$! Greedy bastard!
  14. beckx020
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    beckx020 New Member

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    I put that badly. I personally can't play the games I've tried. My Droid has no problems with them. Labyrinth is the exception that I can play.
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