The Hills Are Greener: Google and Android Freedom

The Hills Are Greener: Google and Android Freedom

Sep 3, 2012

When thinking about the future plans that Google has for Android, there’s definitely a fear that while they try to replicate Apple’s success, they may wind up taking away some of the freedoms that make Android great.

In particular, Google Play’s restrictions are a cause of concern. Requiring developers with apps on the store to use Google’s own payment methods for in-app transactions, is especially disconcerting. In fact, Sneezies developer Retro Dreamer has been alerted about not having IAP in their app at all. The studio has put in services like AdColony and Tapjoy to help generate revenue alongside their standard display ads. There is no IAP due to issues with Google Play’s payment terms, particularly tax handling. It seems silly to warn about not having IAP, but if this wasn’t in error, it seems that Google really wants their cut of the minimal ad revenue that Retro Dreamer makes.

Now, the libertarian perspective on this would be that Google owns the store, and has the right to manage its terms its own way. That is true, but they reportedly handle less of the accounting burden than Apple does, with the same cut from developers. Now, third party distribution is still possible, either through other stores or just direct sales. Retro Dreamer sells ad-free versions of their games on Amazon, for example. That is the one advantage that Android will always have because of its open-source nature.

But it is apparent that Google wants to make its stock store is under some kind of policy lockdown. They want to control it as much as possible, though they are still willing to have a lax approval process. I don’t blame them, especially as it would do them and the platform no good to have every major player like Amazon and any other payment processors trying to fragment control of the platform. But, Google needs to be wary. As they try to best compete with the Apple behemoth, they must be sure that they don’t replicate the unfriendly polices that Apple has implemented. Take care when fighting monsters, lest you become one, Google.