The Fuzzy Treatment: Android Developers Union Has Point! Sort of.

This is a discussion on The Fuzzy Treatment: Android Developers Union Has Point! Sort of. within the Android News forums, part of the Android.net category; Welcome to the third installment of The Fuzzy Treatment. Tonight we welcome Fuzzy, my new mascot. With thanks to fellow Super Moderator and all around ...

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    Super Moderator/RS furbearingmammal's Avatar
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    The Fuzzy Treatment: Android Developers Union Has Point! Sort of.

    Welcome to the third installment of The Fuzzy Treatment. Tonight we welcome Fuzzy, my new mascot. With thanks to fellow Super Moderator and all around class act Wicked for his hard work to build our latest and greatest little Android friend's logo, I now debut him to the world at large. I give you...


    Now, on with the show!

    As reported earlier on a few different sites, an Android developer has a serious grievance with the Android Market and Google in general.

    We, the members and supporters of the Android Developers Union, are fed up with the conditions of the Android Market.
    Sounds serious. I mean, it's not like any users have ever complained about how shoddy the search feature is, right? Or how it's impossible to get an idea of much of anything on the market because anything that's new gets buried under a flood of Sexy Asian Wallpaper or Sex Position apps? But I digress. [NB: The link provided is to a story on malware, not to the app in question. Pervert. ]

    We are tired of being treated like sharecroppers on Google's digital plantation
    Sounds big! But I'm confused here. Sharecroppers? Google's plantation? What the heck are they talking about? So I did some reading. Wow... I had no idea Google was so crass as to expect their developers/tenant farmers to, um, work for a living. How... Evil of them? Certainly the Evil Apple Empire must be doing something even worse!

    We have compiled a list of seven demands which Google can implement to improve the Market. Implementing these demands will absolutely improve the working conditions for Android developers, thereby improving the Android ecosystem and giving a better experience to our customers.

    If our demands are not met, we will move our applications to alternative marketplaces or the web, cease Android development in favor of other more open platforms, we will dissuade other developers from developing Android projects, and we will work tirelessly to counter any of Google's hypocritical claims about Openness in the media.
    So, as shown above, in their very words they plan on going from this epitome of evil that is Google to... Apple. Or at the very least cease putting their apps in the most visible place possible for them to try to sell them. Sounds very much like they're cutting their nose off to spite their face, don't you think?

    Moving along, let's take a look at their demands.

    Demand:

    Renegotiation of the 32% Google-tax on applications sales
    32% of all application sales revenue is currently taken by Google, some of which goes to them, some of which goes to the telco carrier of the customer. Either way, it is large expense for which neither the developer nor the customer receive any value for. Even iPhone developers, who pay a similar tax to Apple, receive value for their tax in the form of Market curation. We get nothing.

    We demand that Google renegotiate this rate, either to a much lower percentage (preferably, no percentage) or give us some value for our money in terms of Market curation and support.
    So they admit parity in "tax". Fair enough. But let's look at this a bit closer:

    Transaction Fees:

    For applications that you choose to sell in Android Market, the transaction fee is equivalent to 30% of the application price. For example, if you sell your application at a price of $10.00, the fee will be $3.00, and you will receive $7.00 in payment.
    While I'll be the first to admit that a 2% difference is piddling, it's still strike the first. They got it wrong according to Google's own documentation. Now, if Google is saying 30% and taking 32% then yes, there is something very wrong here.

    Demand:

    Remedy to the Order of Entry Effect
    The Android Market only has two ways to browse: Most Recent and Top Selling. The Most Recent list is constantly being updated and a new application is only in the top few spots of the list for a minute at most. The Top Selling list goes back all the way to the beginning of the Android Market, so only the applications which have been around for years already can be at the top of the list. This leaves no room for organic growth of a new application. This Order of Entry Effect was also one of the main reasons that "Facebook Applications" were considered a failure.

    We demand that Google implement a way to browse for popular applications of different lengths of time and for different regions.
    What about the Similar tab? Strike two. I'll admit, it's not quite what they're suggesting, but they totally left it out. Have you ever used the similar tab? I know I have. More than once, too. Just for the heck of it I loaded up my LEAST favorite app in the known universe that I've tried to use and hit the similar tab. Guess what? Lots of goodies in there for rooted users. So, yeah, I stand by strike two. But let's see what else they have to complain about.

    Demand:

    Public Bug Tracking
    The Android Market has been, and still is, consistently plagued with technical problems. Also, despite the Open philosophy which Google champions in Android, the Market application is closed source, non-Free software. This combination means that although we as developers and customers have to deal with the crippling bugs of the Market on a daily basis, and yet we have no way to remedy them.

    We would like to see the Android Market open sourced, but if this is not possible, then we demand that at least the bug tracking for the client and the server software of the Android Market be done on a public bug tracker, so that we may report errors and highlight the errors which we feel are the most pressing.
    Does anyone else find the thought of something that sees millions of transactions a day open-sourced so that the hackers can see all the holes in it and start attacking them just a little bit, well, pants-crappingly scary? I know open source is technically more secure than closed source because then everyone can see the holes and they tend to get plugged really fast, but, well, I don't want to trust my credit card information to something that anyone can see HOW to break into it and steal me blind. There's a reason open source goes through beta cycles before implementation. At this point the Market would need rewriting from the ground up in order to meet that level of compliance. I don't see it happening right away, do you? Also, I've never met a "crippling bug" on the market. Is that what Tonya Harding tried to hire? I'm going to give this one a foul tip, though. The last part could be useful.

    Demand:

    Increased Payment Options
    For the first two years the Android Market operated, Google's own Checkout service was the only form of payment available to customers. This has changed in some places, and some are now able to pay with other methods. However, this isn't enough.

    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.
    This actually has some merit. I especially like the last part. Sounds like things are picking up for these demands!

    Demand:

    Codified Rules and a Removal Appeal Process
    The current Market provides only very vague guidelines about what is and isn't acceptable content on the market. Many developers have had their applications removed without warning, without notice and without explanation. These rejections have come with no method of appeal.

    We demand that Google strictly codify the rules of the Market, and that any removals must be accompanied with a complete explanation and reference to the specific rules violated, and with a formal method for appeal.
    So, they're complaining about how Google isn't open, and now they're demanding Google close the Market down a bit. Regulate it. Hmm. That might explain their mascot -- but more on him later.

    Unfortunately since they can't have it both ways this particular idea, however nice it might be (and needed), just put their runner at first out and netted them another strike. For those keeping score that's one out and a strike. Not looking so good from here.

    You know what, though? I'm sick of these demands. I'm sure you're sick of them too, so let's just leave the last two alone and move on. They're mostly geek-speak mumbojumbo. They're also at least mildly valid. Let's call it a walk, runner at first. Not a good score, but we're moving on. At the very least, this is so far from a home run as to not even be in the same ballpark. And enough with the baseball references -- and not just because I don't have an Android baseball emoticon I can use easily.

    So, let's take a look at who is behind this revolution in the Android world. Since it seems most of the blogs, news stories, and links I can find on this issue seem to portray him as some sort of hero, I think a little background would be good, no?

    Hi! My name is Rich.

    I have written more than 18 Android apps, including Port Scandroid and aBTC, the Android BitTorrent client, and the official ‘This American Life’ application.
    Hate to break in here, but, um, how about some decent grammar? Moving on...

    I make my living off of making Android applications.
    I can see where the ire would come from. However, as anyone who develops exclusively for Android can tell you, this may not be the smartest decision ever made.

    I released an app called Rapid Download! which would search and download from filehosting sites like RapidShare (a service which can be done less conveniently using Google’s own search engine). It cost 2.99, 3728 downloads and positive reviews.
    Um... Let's see where this is going before we pass judgement.

    Without any warning or notification, the application was removed. I only noticed when I went to check my sales and noticed I had not made any money for the previous week and a half.
    O NOES! And it gets worse!

    The third time I tried, I received an actual reply, though it contained no specific information and threatened me, saying that if I violated the rules again, my account would be deactivated and all of my applications would be removed from the Market. This would mean that I wouldn’t have any source of income and wouldn’t be able to make my rent payments.
    HOLY CRAP ON A CRUTCH! This is terrible! Someone can't pay their rent with money they didn't make because they couldn't sell an app (or two) that exist solely for, let's face it, stealing other peoples' intellectual property.

    Hang on. Wait... So, this guy is complaining because he didn't continue making money so other people could steal. We have a name for people like that.

    A quick read-through of the Android Developer Distribution Agreement will probably tell you where he went wrong. Buried in the bold print is a "non-compete" clause. Or it might have something to do with this little gem right here:

    7.2 Google Takedowns. While Google does not intend, and does not undertake, to monitor the Products or their content, if Google is notified by you or otherwise becomes aware and determines in its sole discretion that a Product or any portion thereof or your Brand Features; (a) violates the intellectual property rights or any other rights of any third party; (b) violates any applicable law or is subject to an injunction; (c) is pornographic, obscene or otherwise violates Google's hosting policies or other terms of service as may be updated by Google from time to time in its sole discretion; (d) is being distributed by you improperly; (e) may create liability for Google or Authorized Carriers; (f) is deemed by Google to have a virus or is deemed to be malware, spyware or have an adverse impact on Google's or an Authorized Carrier's network; (g) violates the terms of this Agreement or the Market Content Policy for Developers; or (h) the display of the Product is impacting the integrity of Google servers (i.e., users are unable to access such content or otherwise experience difficulty), Google may remove the Product from the Market or reclassify the Product at its sole discretion. Google reserves the right to suspend and/or bar any Developer from the Market at its sole discretion.
    Sounds pretty cut and dried to me. Hung like a side of beef -- "may create liability for Google or Authorized Carriers" sounds pretty damning to me.

    There's a lot more, but I think what annoys me the most is this right here.


    This happy little fella is their mascot. I'm not sure what his name is. Or who he is. I don't even know who is responsible for that hat -- trés chic, no? -- and trimming his eyebrows. If it's Google then they're calling Google a Communistic entity, and I laugh -- and so should you. If it's them, then they're saying they are Communistic, and it's not exactly going to fly too well. Especially since they're unionizing. No matter what, it's not in good taste; nor is it funny.

    So let's ignore the fact that they (or he; we honestly don't know of more than one person involved in this "union" officially at this point) are basically encouraging fraud, or that their primary means of change seems to be an internet petition -- and we all know how well those have worked out in the past.

    Does the Market need improvement? Yes. It's that simple. If for no other reason than the malware that's been creeping in lately. There has to be some sort of oversight or the Market will begin to smell bad and the carriers will start pulling back in favor of something more secure. Where the carriers go, so go the users. That is probably the only demand/threat that's going to impress Google.
    wicked, alphawave7, Dawg72 and 2 others like this.
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    Administrator wicked's Avatar
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    Good stuff once again FBM!


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    Super Moderator/RS furbearingmammal's Avatar
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    Thanks.
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    Android Addict alphawave7's Avatar
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    When I saw the original story, I knew immediately it was essentially a hogwash grievance list, and that if de-constructed (as fuzzy has so artfully done) it would be shown to be so. On their surface the 'demands' seem plausible, but that's cover for what is really going on here. Of course one cannot get traction making 'suggestions' to Google, so why not try 'demands', and bandy about the union word, like someone will take you more seriously using that tact. Pfft. Last I looked, Google ran a business, has rules, and can exercise their enforcement of THEIR market as they please...don't like it? Move to another market or host your own. Simple as that.
    Beauty is in the eyes of the beerholder

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    Android Enthusiast Paul Gyver's Avatar
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    Geez I just read the whole (long) post thinking there was some juicy Labor vs. Mgmt power struggle stories. Good thing I have more beer. Nice read.

    What's a Bieber?

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    Android Addict alphawave7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Gyver View Post
    Geez I just read the whole (long) post thinking there was some juicy Labor vs. Mgmt power struggle stories. Good thing I have more beer. Nice read.
    Well those professional blogger sites have to 'print' something all day long!
    Beauty is in the eyes of the beerholder

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    Super Moderator/RS furbearingmammal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphawave7 View Post
    Well those professional blogger sites have to 'print' something all day long!
    Of course, they also get paid.

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    Android Addict alphawave7's Avatar
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    There's a corollary between content quality and ad revenue...their model is a MacDonalds...billions served. But would you eat there?
    Beauty is in the eyes of the beerholder

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    Super Moderator/RS furbearingmammal's Avatar
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    I prefer my fast food a little more high-brow. I either see it made in front of me (sub shop) or I won't eat it from one of those places.

    Burger King in an emergency, Arby's when I feel the need to abuse my body. Other than that, not really.
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    jev
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    You deconstructed that very well. This guy's attitude and sense of entitlement is unfortunately rampant these days. I, for one, am tired of people thinking they are owed something just for being on this planet. Reminds me of this genius.

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