Monday, July 26, 2010

Is Google starting to filter the Android Market?


One big difference between Android and iPhone is the openness of their respective markets for applications. Censorship of apps for iPhone is a major complaint of users whereas Android apps are supposed to be “uncensored”. Google has had a market content policy (which for instance prohibits “pornography, obscenity, nudity or sexual activity”) since the beginning, but this was barely enforced. The result is that lots of “sexy babes” apps are usually cluttering any look at the "Just In” category in the Android market app.

Last week, we mentioned that one Android developer, “For-side.com Co. Ltd”, had completely disappeared from the Android market along with his 4,000 apps. At the end of last week, another notorious publisher, “StoneJordan”, with another 500 apps, was removed. (If you want to get an idea of the apps involved, a google search will still bring up some outdated information on those apps).

Google occasionally removes apps deemed to be malicious, copyright infringing apps, or for instance YouTube downloaders, but we haven’t seen reports of Google removing hundreds or thousands of apps at a time by pulling a full developer account. Are these two events in the same week just coincidence or a change in direction of Google’s handling of the Android Market? We welcome this new development, as we value quality of apps much more than quantity, but at the same time wonder how far will Google go in enforcing its content policies?

UPDATE 27/7: It seems very unlikely to us that these developers suddenly decide to remove all their apps from the market, as some people suggest. Why would they? And today, another one, "sowallpaper.com", with ~1,500 apps is gone. This means over 6,000 apps removed in less than a weeks time.

See our previous articles on the AppBrain blog for more information.