A discontented app developer has decided to take on Google publicly, demanding changes to the way Google operates its App Marketplace.
Rich Jones has formed the Android Developers Union, a loose group he claims has 200 members. The group started as a blog that Jones says he started to call attention to Google's policies on deleting apps.
The problems, Jones says, started when he found one of his apps had disappeared from the App Marketplace. The app was called Rapid Download!. The app would search download sites such as RapidShare.
Google later removed the app. Jones says he only found out about the removal after two weeks, when he noticed that no new payments from the app's buyers were arriving. When he contacted Google he received only automated or anonymous replies, and he posted the correspondence on his blog. Jones says he accepts that Google has rules about the apps that go in the Marketplace, and he wants to know which specific rules were violated.
One of the rules Google posts for the apps is that they can't infringe on intellectual property. Jones' app allowed easier downloading from sites that are often hosts to pirated material. There is also a policy against illegal activity. But according to Jones, Google never said exactly which rule was violated. I never received any DMCA takedown notice. I also have a BitTorrent client which serves a similar purpose, but has not been taken down. Either way, I still not have been informed of anything, Jones said in an email.
The app also received some negative comments and Jones admits that the app wasn't his best. It's not a great app. However, it worked well enough for what I needed it to do, and plenty of people bought it and used it every day, he wrote. Even so, he says, there should be an appeals process of some kind.
Jones says his income is primarily from writing apps and that he became worried when Google said, repeated violations may result in the suspension of your Android Market Publisher account. The problem, he says, is that there is no process for appealing the decision to take apps down and no way to talk to a real person.
Since then he has started the blog, and he says at least 200 other developers have written to express their support.
Jones has a list of demands of Google. Some are changes in the fee structure for app developers. Like Apple, Google also asks for 30 percent of the revenue from app sales. In his blog Jones says he has no problem with the fees per se, but the lack of service, and claims to have paid Google $14,000 in fees and the only service they have ever provided me is a threatening letter, he said in his blog. Apple App Store developers get a marketplace that while closed, offers more technical support, he says.
Another demand is for public bug tracking, more payment options and an alteration in how Google orders the apps when they are searched for, as currently it ranks them by how recently they were uploaded or how well they sell. Jones is also asking that Google open up the algorithms that manage the Marketplace.
But the most important demand is for a better-explicated procedure for app removal, an appeals process and a liaison who can deal with developers directly.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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