Apr 7, 2011
It seems as if Google is starting to seriously play watchdog on the Android Market – or at least to a degree that they haven’t done before. Grooveshark, the streaming music service that lets users upload their own music to the service for other users to stream, have had their app pulled from the Android Market. This is likely due to the sketchy copyright status of the service – they have been sued by Universal Media Group in 2010, although they have licensing agreements with labels like EMI. This isn’t the first time a Grooveshark app has been pulled from a major app store – Apple removed the Grooveshark app from the iOS App Store in August 2010.
Between this and the recent removal of PSX4Droid, the PS1 emulator by ZodTTD, this raises questions about Google’s motivations for removing apps like these. Are they removing them because of a new push to remove apps of dubious legal status? If so, then why haven’t any other major emulators been pulled from the Market? Was it just removed because of the Xperia Play, and Sony likely not wanting to have a PS1 emulator on the same market that they will be selling PS1 games? Did Universal or some other record label with a dispute against Grooveshark facilitate the removal of the app from the Market? It just seems curious considering Google’s patern of behavior with removing apps – they’re usually either removed for malicious reasons, or for explicit copyright infringement (see the removal of the Pokemon Tower Defense game), but these last couple of removals smack of something else going on on over at Google HQ.
However, this is far from the end for the Android app – the Grooveshark website still offers an APK of the app so users can manually install the app to their phone to check out the service, which requires a subscription to use on mobile, although the app gives you a free trial without having to enter any payment info. It will be interesting to follow just what Google does in the future – to see if this is the start in a sea change on the Android Market, or if these are just isolated incidents of apps that Google thought explicitly violated their policies in some way. At least users have an alternative without having to jailbreak, like on iOS, if they want to use this or any other removed app.