Android, Openness, and the Developers Union
I thought Google’s Android was supposed to be the antidote to Apple’s closed system. Looks like a group of top Android developers don’t think so. They’ve formed the Android Developers Union and have issued the following demands:
- Renegotiation of the 32% Google-tax on applications sales
- Remedy to the Order of Entry Effect
- Public Bug Tracking
- Increased Payment Options
- Codified Rules and a Removal Appeal Process
- Communication and Engineering Liaison
- Algorithmic Transparency
Let’s look at those a little closer.
32% Google Tax: They say “Even iPhone developers, who pay a similar tax to Apple, receive value for their tax in the form of Market curation. We get nothing.” Looks like Android’s “open” platform hurts developers.
Order Of Entry Effect: This can affect Apple’s store as well but they compensate for it by time-limiting leader charts. Most popular changes every hour based on what’s being downloaded right now in your region. Google just uses a sum of all downloads which means a new app will never reach the top.
Public Bug Tracking: Here’s something I’ve never heard about iTunes Connect & iTunes: “The Android Market has been, and still is, consistently plagued with technical problems.” They are complaining that the market is closed source and thus the community is stuck with crap software controlled by ‘the man’.
Increased Payment Options: “We demand increased payment methods, particularly a Web or Desktop based interface to the Market, as well as a way for developers to implement “Pay What You Want” pricing schemes.”
It is absolutely insane that the Android Market can only be viewed from an Android device. I get sent links to iOS apps all the time and I want to take a look at them from my laptop while I’m working. Without iTunes and iTunes on the web, I’d be driven nuts. That’s how I feel about Android apps.
(Update – 3/4/11 6:09pm: As noted in the comments. When I wrote this I completely forgot that they did in fact launch a webstore a few weeks ago. It was completely insane, but it is no more. I visited the webstore when it launched and hadn’t been back and thus forgot about it. Generally when I want to try a new app for my Android device I go directly from the device because this option hadn’t been available. I stand corrected.)
Codified Rules and a Removal Appeal Process: Where have I heard this complain before…
Communication And Engineering Liaison: Well this would be less of a problem if the Android was a better piece of software.
Algorithmic Transparency: (see above)
All-in-all, Google has to get its act together. Their store is a mess. It’s poorly designed, poorly managed, and – if this is a serious focus of theirs – just feels like it’s not being paid attention to. Google has so much money and so many resources I can’t understand why their Android support is so incredibly anemic.