The Hills Are Greener: AppGratis, Saga, and Why Google Play is Still Way Different Than the App Store

The Hills Are Greener: AppGratis, Saga, and Why Google Play is Still Way Different Than the App Store

Apr 15, 2013

There’s plenty of reasons for Android supporters to be feeling smug with how Google runs Android and its store versus what Apple has been doing.

First, there’s the content concerns that Apple has. This has come to a head this week with the comic Saga and its 12th issue, which was supposedly banned from the App Store due to images of sex between two men; it turned out Apple didn’t have a direct say in what happened, but that Comixology didn’t believe that they could sell it on the iOS issue due to the content, eventually making it available only through the workaround of buying it outside of the iOS app, then making it available in the library. Apple didn’t have a direct say in banning it, but their policies were at least partially at fault.

More seriously, Apple has pulled the plug suddenly on AppGratis seemingly because they’ve figured out how to do their job too well at promoting the apps they feature for free; basically any app featured was pretty much an instant top 10, and Apple wants to keep the list organic (and possibly to keep some value in their weekly free app promotion), so they’re willing to try and harm if not outright destroy a 40-plus-employee company seemingly instantaneously. They’ll probably find a new way to keep their business going, but it definitely has had an effect.

Google may be more lax on content, short of the standard "no pornography or illegal content’ warnings that really don’t mean too much since Google Play doesn’t have a dedicated review team, but the store and company are unafraid to shut down what they see as undesirable. See the ad blocking removal – apps that seemed to violate "guidelines" more so than actual rules. However, the difference there is clear: Google makes its money from ads. Shutting down ad blockers on their store is definitely justifiable. As well, there’s a huge philosophical difference: if Apple shuts down an app, it requires hacking the device in order to get apps from outside the store, a process that is getting harder to do for the hackers. Google shuts down an app and it’s still available through other sources for all users.

These policies are definitely subject to change, however – see the article about how it’s easier to discover content on Google Play because they display so many more listings; then the news breaks that Google’s redesigning the store again, and the number of listings per page is reduced. Things can change with Google at any time, so don’t assume any moral superiority can or will last forever. But yes, for now, Google’s decisions seem far more defensible than what Apple continues to do.

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
Connect with Carter Dotson // email // www