Has your Android app been uploaded to the Nokia X store without your knowledge?

Has your Android app been uploaded to the Nokia X store without your knowledge?

Summary: It seems part of the deal that saw Opera’s browser come pre-installed on the new Android-based Nokia X included an agreement to fill Nokia's store with Android apps.


As BlackBerry, Jolla, Mozilla, and Microsoft know, filling up a new app store can take some time. Of course, there's one way to speed up that process — leaning on the massive supply of Android apps that already populate third-party stores.

The birth of a new app store should also be good news for app developers, offering an extra shop window to put their wares in front of buyers. So if an Android app appeared in the Nokia Store for Nokia's fledgling Android-based X devices — without any effort on the developer's part — that should be a good thing, right?

Not according to Anders Webb, the developer of the Android ADW.Launcher app, who was unimpressed — to put it mildly — when he recently discovered his app "and possibly more" had been "uploaded" to the Nokia Store without his permission.

By email, he was told that all he needed to do to let users download the app from the Nokia X store was "allow the Nokia Store team from Microsoft to contact him".

Exactly how his app arrived in the Nokia Store is an interesting story, given that it's highly unlikely that Microsoft/Nokia would take the app from Google Play.

The answer to the conundrum looks to come from a lesser-publicised aspect of Nokia's and Opera's partnership around the launch of the Nokia X range. The two companies struck an agreement whereby they agreed to publish Android apps that had been submitted to a store known as Handster on the Nokia Store as well.

"Based on Handster’s existing agreements with its developers, they have granted distribution rights to Nokia for these free Android apps which have been published in the Nokia Store," Nokia said in a blogpost at the time. Opera acquired Handster in 2011 to bolsters its own Opera Mobile Store.

According to XDA developers, that agreement could be how Webb's app ended up in Nokia's store.

Opera said that when developers submit their apps to the Opera Mobile Store via the Opera portal, they tick a box to agree to terms and conditions before signing up. The terms and conditions say:

Additional Optional Distribution Channels. When submitting Content via the Portal, Content Provider may be offered the option of distributing its Content via additional distribution channels offered by Handster, Inc. (including other storefronts operated by third-parties). Such distribution is optional. By choosing within the Portal to distribute Content via one or more of Handster's distribution channels, Content Provider acknowledges and agrees that such distribution is pursuant to Handster's relationships with such third party storefronts and that Handster, Inc. bears sole responsibility under this Agreement with regard to such distribution.

An Opera spokesperson added: "After they have created an account, the developer is taken to an app submission page, which asks for an app description, imagery, any pricing information, etc. Below that on the same page is a section labelled 'additional Handster distribution channels'; here the developer uses tick-boxes to select or deselect which platforms to make the app available for, and Nokia Store is one of the platform options."

A spokesperson for Nokia's new owner Microsoft said: "Opera is one of our partners and they have publishing agreements to help developers expand their reach. Nokia Store is one of these channels. In order to keep applications updated and to secure the best consumer experience, developers have been given the option to have an account to manage their applications directly to Nokia Store. This process has been communicated to the developer community. We take privacy very seriously and have a good track record of close collaboration with developers."

Microsoft for its part had its own run-in with developers late last year when it was found to be publishing web apps for Windows Phone devices without asking the company's whose content they were based on. While it didn't necessarily harm anyone, doing so without permission rubbed some companies the wrong way.

Read more on the Nokia X range

Topics: Android, Microsoft, Software Development

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Usual levels of spin to a story

    So correct me if I'm wrong but essentially all this is doing is creating a space in Nokia's Android app store for the application, but not publishing anything until the app creator/owner gives permission for it to 'go live'. Nokia has saved developers a bit of work by pre-loading (but NOT activating), then they get in touch with the app owner to let them know how they can move things forward and have their app accessible in the store when the app owner has written back giving permission to do so...and all the apps that are involved in this are covered by the terms&conditions to do with the Handster app store, Opera and Nokia.

    This feels like insistance that things are far more sinister than they are.

    Article review: F-
    • The fact they took it alone is illegal

      Did Opera pay for a copy of it?
      How can MS and Opera offer something they don't have rights too?

      I had a lot of respect for Opera, but like usual, any time MS touches anything it corrupts it. I shall never again: endorse, use or consider Opera a viable alternative. MS contaminated with filth.
      • Did you even read the article?

        Opera owns Handster, and when DEVELOPERS uploaded their apps to that app store they agreed for it to be distributed in additional distribution channels. Microsoft hasn't taken anything and Developers chose to be a part of Handster and have the ability to not use the Nokia app store if they don't want to (and have the option to not use Handster if they don't want to).

        There is absolutely nothing sinister about this setup but because Microsoft's name is tied to it the author (and you) feel that something morally wrong was done.
      • Nothing they did is illegal

        If you think so, I suggest you start a lawsuit. :|
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Uralbas - get a grip

        As we've pointed out - the terms and conditions app developers will have agreed to with Handster will have given the permission to distribute via other channels. Go read what's been done properly and get off your Microsoft-bashing high horse!

        Apps have been loaded onto the store, but the apps HAVEN'T been activated and so are not accessible until the app owner gives their permission for it to go live.

        Your comment is just Microsoft-hating vitriol based on assumptions rather than the facts.
  • Interesting ...

    Summary: "Opera’s browser come[s] pre-installed on the new Android-based Nokia X"

    I wonder if Microsoft will continue with the new Opera web browser based on Google's Chromium (and Blink) or will port Internet Explorer to Android? I'd guess the former with Bing as the default search engine.
    Rabid Howler Monkey