July 24, 2014

This Is Why We Fight

fist2Hot on the heels of Trent Reznor being sent packing by Apple, Microsoft has published a roster of applications that cannot be distributed via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Some of these are comparable to the express limits put in place for the Android Market, such as not distributing competing app markets or apps that try to get people to upgrade outside of the Marketplace.

At the same time, though, the Marketplace bans anything over 10MB and bans anything that replaces various default applications, such as the browser, media player, or SMS apps. In fact, depending on how Microsoft chooses to interpret phrases like “change the default”, it may be that third-party browsers and such are banned outright.

Windows Mobile and the Marketplace are still improvements over the iPhone App Store, which seems to operate under a “we don’t want what we decide that day we don’t want” policy. After all, there are other ways to get apps onto Windows Mobile devices, compared to the App Store’s distribution monopoly.

However, it is times like this that we need to remember that, for all the Android Market’s warts, it is still more open than the competing platforms’ default markets. And, while not everything on an Android handset is replaceable, more things are for it than for some of these other mobile OSes.

At the same time, though, the Android Market is rapidly turning into a de facto monopoly in its own right, as app developers seem disinclined to list their apps anywhere else. We need some other market to capture developers’ (and users’) interests, in order to help keep the Android Market honest and as open as it is. That might be an existing market; it might be some new market not yet available for Android.

Android’s popularity gives those of us interested in truly open mobile a great platform to promote. At the same time, we need to keep working to keep this open mobile platform truly open, and make it more open over time. Watch this space for more on this topic in the coming days, weeks, and months.