Android Market is a mess

Android Market is a mess

Summary: An interesting piece by tech wizard Jon Lech Johansen critizing Google's management of the Android Market.

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An interesting piece by tech wizard Jon Lech Johansen critizing Google's management of the Android Market.

Google does far too little curation of the Android Market, and it shows. Unlike Apple's App Store, the Android Market has few high quality apps.

It gets worse:

Below are just a few examples of what's wrong with the Android Market. Those 144 spam ringtone apps (which are clearly infringing copyright) are currently cluttering the top ranks of the Multimedia category. I was not surprised to find that they were being monetized through Google Ads.

Google is also allowing users to get access to apps that allow them to download music illegally:

Trademark and copyright infringement is widespread in the Android Market:

The music downloading app "Tunee" (one of many such apps) is one of the Top Free apps in the Multimedia category with more than 250k downloads. While some would dishonestly try to pretend that such apps are meant for downloading public domain classical music, the developers of Tunee are very clear about their intent.

So basically, on the one hand Apple offers a tightly controlled marketplace where users can find apps, while Google has created a wild west where anything goes. Which is best?

[poll id="540"]

This is the clearest indication yet that Google's Android platform (and I mean the platform as a whole, not the OS specifically) is far from ready for prime time. How is the end user supposed to filter through the apps to find legitimate ones in the midst of all the junk? Where's the element of trust? Where's the oversight?

There's a valuable lesson here for Microsoft to learn with it's mobile aspirations - set the development bar too low and invite anyone and everyone on board to create anything, and what you end up with is a cesspool where high-quality apps don't have a chance of flourishing.

Google - FIX IT!!!!

Topics: Android, Apple, Apps, Google, Mobile OS, Security

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46 comments
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  • Microsoft's current approach is probably the best

    There is nothing wrong with Apple having very tight control over Apple's marketplace. Where I think Apple has gone too far is by [b]forcing[/b] iPhone users to use that marketplace. Judging from the interest in jailbreaking, I would say there is significant demand for end user choice.

    Keeping that in mind, you have MS's approach with WM6.5. They offer you a highly curated app store should you choose to restrict yourself to approved apps while doing nothing to prevent those of us with intelligence from installing apps from other sources, should we choose to risk it. Linux works the same way with its repositories and I think that is a fantastic approach.

    Unfortunately, Redmond's photocopiers have been working full time with WP7 and MS is about to take a step backwards towards Apple. :(
    NonZealot
    • What happened to JM's post?

      Weird, wonder why it was deleted. Thanks for the very kind words JM. It brightened my day. :)
      NonZealot
      • Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has poor knowledge

        His own poll proves that 66% of over 2000 users prefer Android over Apple, proving his assertions wrong.

        Its foolish to keep wasting time reading his posts. This is the last one I ll read.
        Uralbas
    • RE: Android Market is a mess

      @NonZealot You know this might be one of the two or three posts you've done that I completely agree with.
      athynz
  • Adrian you are so off base with this...

    You call iFart iLight quality iPhone Apps ???
    As a developer, I see Apple's store policy's as big issue,
    you can write an app and it may never see the light of day. Or if a serious bug is found in your app, getting a fix out to your paying customer is not a very timely task.
    mrlinux
    • developers

      @mrlinux
      apple has just paid out 1 BILLION to developers. according to some reports that's 50 times as much as developers made at the android market in pretty much the same time frame. as an apple hating developer no one cares if you have any concerns. shut up, get in the game, make money on the only vital platform there is or litter zdnet's comments section. your choice.
      banned from zdnet
      • Playing the lottery is a better business model

        @banned from zdnet
        [i]apple has just paid out 1 BILLION to developers[/i]

        http://wmpoweruser.com/?p=17365
        [i]the truth is that starting to write an iPhone app may be the most stupid thing a developer or company can do.[/i]

        BAM! In one link, I've just destroyed your post. :)
        NonZealot
      • wmpoweruser

        @ueberzealot
        an "analysis" coming from a site called wmpoweruser. you gotta be kidding.
        banned from zdnet
      • WMPoweruser didn't do the analysis, they only reported it

        @banned from zdnet
        Go read the article. There is a link to the actual analysis at the bottom. Then come back when you can actually refute anything in the analysis. We'll be waiting.
        NonZealot
      • RE: Android Market is a mess

        @banned from zdnet Wow that adds up to < $5000 dollar per app, but what about the ones Apple denied entry into the game Adobe(I do not mean flash) Google Apps. I do not judge the app market by the amount of money you can make on an app. But on the types of apps available.
        mrlinux
      • RE: Android Market is a mess

        @NonZealot

        I think for an app to be successful it needs to be more then a standalone app.

        Look at Runkeeper (one of my favorites). Its a free app but they provide other pay services from their webpage.

        Wolfgang's Vault is another classy, free app but they also offer a subscription service for premium content.

        The same model seems to be duplicated with the different Cook Book and Shopping apps.

        You need to be on the iPhone because it is such a popular platform (just like Android and RIM).

        I think WM Power User doesn't get (and they are not alone on this) is how people make real money from apps and why the iPhone is considered so important.
        maskman01
      • @mrlinux: Actually, much, much, much less than $5,000 per app

        [i]Wow that adds up to < $5000 dollar per app[/i]

        Because a few apps at the top really bring up the mean average, it really isn't all that accurate. The median is closer to $682.

        http://wmpoweruser.com/?p=17365
        [i]While some developers do make it rich on the app store, due to the long tail phenomena the majority of the $1 billion ( what?s left over after Apple takes its share) will go to a few odd developers, and more than half will only earn around $682 per year per app. With iPhone apps on average costing $15 000 or more to build, this means the vast majority of developers will never make back their investment.[/i]
        NonZealot
    • RE: Android Market is a mess

      @mrlinux <br><br>Apple's App store is still a new platform and business model (just two years old). I expect as it continues to grow, such issues will be ironed out. <br><br>But as a developer, take a look at the alternative. 60% of Apps in the Android store are free. Android users are becoming accustomed to getting things handed to them for free. Not good from a developers point of view. The top ranking apps in the Android store are, and as expected are free crappy Apps. Take a look at Apple's App store. Just 20% of apps in Apple's app store are free Apps (which still comes out to be more free Apps than Android because of total number). The top ranking Apps in Apple's App Store are paid-for apps. This shows that the App Store is a healthy thriving store, users are willing to pay for quality apps if offered, developers are happy. Sure there are issues but it's obvious which store is the healthiest and most lucrative.
      dave95.
      • RE: Android Market is a mess

        @dave95.
        My responses are quoted from the following article:
        http://wmpoweruser.com/?p=17365

        [i]Android users are becoming accustomed to getting things handed to them for free.[/i]

        So are Apple users:
        [i]The truth is that while more than 75% of applications in the app store are for a fee, with the average price around $3.83, [b]more than 80% of those 5 billion apps downloaded were in fact of the free variety[/b].[/i]

        Back to your post:
        [i]Sure there are issues but it's obvious which store is the healthiest and most lucrative.[/i]

        Yes, and it isn't Apple's App Store.
        [i]Calling iPhone devotees blinded by large numbers, he notes even the most successful iPhone game (Angry birds which sold 4 million) pales into insignificance compared to mobile games like Tetris which easily sold into the 100 millions.[/i]
        NonZealot
      • Lets see some links for those numbers...

        @dave95.
        mrlinux
      • RE: Android Market is a mess

        @Zealot<br><br><i>"The truth is that while more than 75% of applications in the app store are for a fee, with the average price around $3.83, more than 80% of those 5 billion apps downloaded were in fact of the free variety."</i><br><br>The important stat that was conveniently left out from (Winpoweruser) is: what percentage of those users who download free trial Apps also purchased the full Apps later? I know i've download lite version of apps but later purchased the full version because it was well done. Does this not count? <br><br>The App Store as mentioned is easily the most lucrative of any other competing app stores. If they're saying it's really only fools goal, then I guess no other store stand a chance. All development should come to a halt in competing stores!<br><br>@mrlinux <br><br>Here are the links (just few months ago)<br><br><a href="http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.androlib.com/appstatsfreepaid.aspx</a></a></a></a></a></a></a></a><br><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/15/android-market-hits-20-000-apps-over-60-percent-free/</a></a></a></a></a></a></a></a>
        dave95.
      • See the original article for much more useful info

        @mrlinux.<br>For the figures you have to look at the original article, which is much more than just what these throw away figures represent.<br><br>The whole point of his blog was that:<br>- aiming at just the smartphone app market is highly biased towards losing money for a developer<br>- looking at the whole mobile market and using technologies not restricted to one particular smartphone OS or another, then there are some real opportunities to make money.<br><br>He cites where just using SMS in conjuction with other media generates $Billions. His discussion around that shows that there is a lot more to being sure to make money from programming than glamour apps - it is relevance and leveraging which are way out of the realm of most programmers. Yes there are a few successful sole efforts, like some games, but most WILL fail miserably because they lack the coherence in marketing that will give them the reach. As in most things, technology is just a small part in success - all the elements have to be lined up to be successful, which really means success is a team effort and that raises the overheads (and consequently the break-even point) out of the reach of the vast majority of programmers.<br><br>Of course, you will not make money if a app is not useful, easy to use or reliable. Just those criteria will eliminate many developers' efforts from making their fortune.
        Patanjali
    • RE: Android Market is a mess

      @mrlinux Let's compare how many fart apps are in the Apple App store to how many spam ringtone apps are in the Android App Store... from the article: [b]Those 144 spam ringtone apps (which are clearly infringing copyright) are currently cluttering the top ranks of the Multimedia category.[/b] Or even better let's count how many fart apps are in the Andriod app store - [b]Type in ?fart? in the Android Market and you?ll find over 29 apps that will satisfy your inner bachelor. Plus you?ll be the star at the family holiday gathering with hits like FartDroid, Fart Attack v1.3.1, 101 Farts, Fart Machine 2, Pull My Finger, Sneaky Fart, and my favorite, Fartbot 3000. For special occasions may I suggest Noble Fart.[/b] quoted from here:http://www.starksilvercreek.com/2009/12/android-app-explosion-now-20000-farts-yes-crm-no.html

      To be fair I'm also including the results of an iTunes search for fart apps: using the search feature in iTunes I found 180 fart apps, some dedicated fart apps some being a broader spectrum of sound effect apps - so out of 200,000 apps there are 180 fart apps... not that large of a percentage of fart apps there compared to the number of apps available.
      athynz
    • Seriously?

      @mrlinux Let's get it out of the way; I like my 3GS. I wouldn't go to Android if someone paid me. I don't use the App Store very much, why? Because it's full of bloatware.

      But your post is beside the point - when did Adrian ever say anything about iFart or iLight being quality apps? They're $h!tware, like a lot of the apps in the App Store. But because of Apple's tight reign on it, we can get some very high quality applications - unlike the near-limitless Android Market.

      It's because of Apple's high standards that we get some great applications, like Brushes, Sketchbook, ShoveBox, Data, QuickOffice, Documents to Go, and the always required JellyCar.

      As a developer myself, Apple's policy isn't threatening to me at all. When an app has a bug, and I missed it, Apple does a good job to letting me know there's a problem and being polite about it. Should something break due to a firmware update, getting an update out has always been in less than 2 or 3 days, for me.

      The App Store is massive. What is it now, 250,000 apps? I'll be the first to say that 220,000 of those are probably absolute crap. But among all those apps, you can normally find a gemstone in the dust every once in a while. Yes, Apple's policy is shockingly abrupt and limiting at some points, but compare the absolute best of the bests from both stores, and see how they stack.

      Yes, there are Android apps that dominate the iPhone equivalent, and yes, there are iPhone apps that trample the Android counterpart. Is it impossible for the two stores to coexist without the need for constant comparison? Well that was a stupid question - 11/10 (yes, that's intentional, for those of you who seriously think I'm that dumb) ZDNet readers would immediately respond "HELL NO" to that.
      Ktroje
  • I agree, Microsoft has the best of both worlds.

    Their application store has some of the best app's available, they do screen what is offered. But they also allow users to make the CHOCIE to buy elsewhere if that is their DECISION.

    Choice is a good thing...
    No_Ax_to_Grind