Android Market Frustrates Developers
Developers for Google's mobile platform are growing increasingly frustrated by disappearing applications, purchasing issues and other problems stemming from the Android Market.
There have been difficulties since the inception of the Android Market, which isn't as tightly controlled as, for example, Apple's App Store. Many of the troubles involve applications that go missing from the Market -- they are there one day, and unavailable the next.
Following on the heels of that problem was a snafu that resulted in incorrect download counts, often resulting in counts that showed thousands fewer downloads than there should have been. Fewer downloads means fewer profits for developers.
Although Google acknowledges the mistakes and says it's fixing the issues, the problems continue. One developer on an Android support forum, identified as "erxgus" said, "I am still not seeing my app on the Android Market either. Try uploading it several times, and it's still not on the market. And this is on T-mobile, with Froyo client." Froyo is the latest iteration of the Android OS, version 2.2.
It's not just that apps are disappearing; there are difficulties with paying for apps. "If any of your apps are paid apps, it seems that people are getting stuck at Authorizing Purchase and never getting to download the apps," said Android support forum member "Ryan R."
Last week the Android Market was down completely for about a half hour, blogged a Google employee. During that time, no apps at all were available to anyone, leaving customers just as frustrated as developers. "Kellyvincent" complained about a problem that started "Yesterday, 4/27/10. . .nothing from the Market will download -- new apps or updates for existing ones. I've rebooted, removed battery and sim card, and nothing's changed. Stays stuck on 'starting download.'"
Experienced Android developer and blogger Simon Judge weighed in with an overview of the problems and the steps he thinks Google needs to take to fix them: He chalked up the disappearing apps issue to the fact that "Google has to enable phone models on the Android Market," and hardware manufacturers are shipping phones before that's happened. Those customers, of course, want to get apps right away. Blogs Judge:
It's well known that people download most apps when they first buy a new phone. Since people also tend to buy the latest phones, users get frustrated and developers get asked about a problem they can't solve.
Developers are also complaining about the lack of a well-defined process for dealing with these types of problems. Bo Stone, for example, blogged about the lack of Google support:
What disturbs me deeply is that there's really no support system for the Android Market. The Market is not an open source so we have to rely on Google to fix any problems. Yet there's no bug tracking, no support phone or even e-mail or any way to file a problem ticket.
Google, locked in a fierce battle with Apple's iPhone, facing competition from RIM with the BlackBerry and Microsoft with its upcoming Windows Phone 7, needs to do everything in its power to keep its developers happy. The apps are what primarily drive smartphone sales, and developers have choices. If they're losing money on one platform, they may quickly migrate to another.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.