For the past month, I’ve been playing heavily with developing Android Apps to see if there is any opportunity for an Irish company to make a decent living by creating and selling apps through the Android Market.
After weeks of research, I opted to develop apps for the personalisation category of the market as it appeared that this area was the one that most people who used the Android market were likely to part with their cash. It took a couple of weeks to get going, but when it did, I was very impressed.
When I finally figured out what would sell, I was making over €100 per day. This run lasted for a solid 12 days. I was very content that there was a living to be made out of the market, but it was still such early days that I was still pretty much testing the water.
Unfortunately, my run ended late last night. I got an email from Google which said:
“Your Android Market developer account has been suspended due to prior developer account suspension violations of our developer agreement and policies. “
One of my strategies was to offer free apps, which I would use to cross sell my paid for apps. This was ultimately what I thought led to my account being suspended.
I had stupidly used a copyrighted image in one of my free apps. Thinking that because my free app was benefiting no-one monetarily, I thought it would be OK. But I was clearly wrong. My free apps were suspended.
Well that is my assumption of course. Because three of my free apps were suspended prior to me receiving the notification of the account suspension. When I received those suspensions, I spent hours making sure my other Apps were 100% compliant with the Android Market Developer agreement and policies.
However, it turns out that I was not in fact banned for this – but in fact, it was that Google believe I have had other accounts suspended in the past (which I don’t) and I was trying to beat the system by creating another account.
Looking around the web for others who were banned, it seems that Google have a very strict, no retribution policy. It appears that it’s a waste of time to even question the reason for this suspension as I’m unlikely to get a response. Of course, I have tried to get in touch, to no avail as of yet.
But what does that mean for anyone trying to make a serious go at becoming an Android Developer?
In one foul swoop your whole business could be taken from under you, without any explanation from Google. Google don’t seem to offer you the chance to prove your innocence, nor the opportunity to change anything that is against their Android Market Developer agreement and policies.
The fact that they believe my account is another account by someone who was suspended before is quite frightening. I have an idea how they have come to that conclusion – but I will keep that to myself until I know they are not willing to discuss it with me.
The sad reality is that I had hoped to build a business in this area. Creating jobs and an export market for the haggered Irish economy.
I would be extremely worried and cautious as to how viable it actually would be when you take these actions into consideration. Can you imagine walking into your workforce following a suspension by Google and saying “You’ve lost your jobs, Google has suspended our account because they believe we had an account before… Oh and they won’t respond to our requests to reconsider.” ??
The initial attraction to the Android market for me was its openness. Unlike the Apple App Store, you didn’t have to go through an approval process before your app appeared on the market. This was appealing as it allowed you to test the market before putting a huge amount of effort into something that just isn’t going to work.
Of course, from a user experience, the Android Market process isn’t ideal. It means that there is a lot of low quality apps available on the market. But on the other hand, it also means there are a lot more free apps available.
I’m now at a cross roads. I’m half way through an app that I believe will do really well on the Android Market, but not sure if I should change my focus now to iOS. Obviously, I can’t open another Android Developer account so I will need to partner up with someone on that front – but it really has left me with a dilemma.
Another issue is the fact that they didn’t just ban apps they felt were in violation, but also apps that were perfectly legit. I had some basic apps outside the personalisation category that were doing quite well and now they too are not available.
How Google think this is a good way to treat their Android Market Developers is beyond me. They should at least offer an appeal process or change their terms and conditions to allow people open more than one account.
Maybe if they brought in an approval system similar to the Apple App Market it would prevent users uploading apps that they shouldn’t be.
Either way, I’m extremely dismayed by the whole episode. It would be really nice to get some feedback from Google and find out exactly where it all went wrong. We can only learn by our mistakes!