Has Google Begun Cleaning the Android Market? Do You Care if They Are?

We mentioned in an article last week that an Android developer going by the name of For-side.com Co. Ltd had over 4,000 applications pulled from the Market.  It’s still unknown whether they decided to do this themselves or if perhaps Google was behind the sudden yank.  Today we’re learning that  another developer, sowallpaper.com has had roughly 1,500 apps pulled from the Market.  In addition, another outfit called StoneJordan has also found themselves on the outside of the Market, looking in. 

So, is this coincidence?  What developer would willingly pull all of their “apps” at once?  Three developers in a matter of a few weeks with over 6,000 tittles between them doesn’t sound like chance to us.

You Tell Us

Do you care if Google steps in and cleans up the Android Market?  Are we talking about a slippery slope to Draconian Apple-esque tactics or does it help to have them yank crapplications?  Have a better idea?  Leave a comment below!

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In addition to smartphones and mobile gadgets, Scott has a deep appreciation for film, music, and sunflower seeds. A husband and father, he likes spending down time riding his mountain bike or binge-watching TV. Scott has overseen the day-to-day activities of AndroidGuys since 2007.
  • Good for them. Just tap on all applications and then Just In and look at all the junk flowing through there. Soundboards are one thing but consolidate them into one major app with in app downloads from a server instead of having 1500 different "apps" from each movie in the past 10 years. Same goes for all of the "sexy girl ____" wallpaper "apps" and all that crap. It's one thing to boast such a large number of apps available to your customers but in reality the number of quality apps is terrible compared to the appstore.

  • LuvMyDroid

    I think they're on the right track. Rather than pulling apps one at a time just remove the accounts of "devs" who flood the market with garbage.

    • Mickey Lim

      I agree. You CAN get apps anywhere, unlike with the iPhone (unless you jailbreak it) Android Marked has to be able to offer something. A strong TOS to prevent abuses. If a dev has just a couple apps that are bad or abusive, ok, deal with it individually. If a dev makes bad apps as a business model, then the Dev should be in violation of TOS and kicked off the site. Again, Android Market is not the ONLY way to get your app on a Android phone, so if it’s good, or if you want to support pay-pay or other things, then carry on there.

      The average Android user is a relatively new customer … and a little oversight for fair play is a good thing. It shouldn’t be the wild west, or in the other extreme, Steve Job’s lock down concentration camp.

  • Touch_Pete

    Depends on what the reason for this action is. If as was the case with Apple they were doing something unethical to get their apps rated more favorably then by all means remove them and let it be a lesson to others. I cannot see Google removing apps for any other reason after they have been on the receiving end of the censorship of Apple.

  • I agree, way too many "crapplications" in Android Market. I'm glad we have custodians to clean up from time to time now.

  • kpurdu1

    All for the clean up as long as it's for stuff that's clearly junk, which it appears to be.

  • Coda81

    I hope they keep it up. Not that it has to be just like Apple, but they do a great job with their app store, the Android Market feels flat to me and all the crap makes it look like a joke. I do hope they continue to refine the marketplace.

  • MonSour

    I'm with @blee27…….100% ! Kill all the crap, and consolidate all the junk into one application. I want a Market of quality applications, not one with a million apps that just clutter the Market. Go Google!

  • Mark

    Finally!!!!!! As for pulling an app just because a few people might not like it,I would say NO. SoWall is another story.Hey pretty girl wallpaper apps are fine,but when they are ALL the same it's junk.I hated going to the market to find new apps and having to scroll thru pretty girl 1 pretty girl 2 pretty girl 3 usually up to 10 or 15 then pretty hot girl 1 pretty hot sexy 1 and so on.By the way SoWall is back under another name and hass flooded the market with almost 500 more of these crap apps in a week.GO GET EM GOOGLE.

  • David Mulligan

    I am happy to see the apps go or perhaps get filed under some threshold that keeps them out of my site. However I really don't want this to lead to Jobsian like approval or filtration type processes.

  • I'm all for it. As long as they're not removing decent apps. It's common sense really – how could anyone actually develop 500+ decent apps in such a small amount of time? -They can't, so they should be pulled.

    A better solution might be to improve the Android Market search algorithms, (the internet's full of billion spam sites, but no-one seems to mind) but this definitely helps too. It should also help to improve the image of Android Market, making it more of a feature for customers buying phones.

  • This article is great, I have been waiting for this to happen to be honest.

    I think Google is doing a great thing by removing the applications which are more or less spam apps & allowing it so that the actual applications that developers spend lots of time on coding & what not can shine as they are meant to & not be a underline in a sea full of rubbish.

    It got so bad that my regular browsing of applications that were under “Just In” was worthless to do & I didn’t want to go through 100 rubbish apps just to pretty much find a needle in a haystack so to speak so I stopped doing that around the roughly 4 hours I use too as in 4 hours I was trolling through over say 200 applications that were just in & having 70+ off them being apps that are the same just different names or whatever the tactics were the developers used.

    Now maybe I can do my 4hourly check & not be disrupted by the apps that are trash made & find some more grade A apps to add to my current collection.

    One more thing I want to ad on this subject is, I bet some Android developers don’t want to add or update there applications to the Market for these reasons outline in this article & now that Google is cleaning up maybe now we will see more good applications appearing on the market & less of what I see Mark has just pointed out (returning or new names with the same rubbish apps).

    Also, Great work Scott on bringing this to my attention & keep up the great work with the site & articles!

  • Anartic

    Hopefully with the removal of all the junk applications we can start moving towards a quality over quantity Android market

  • Dmorn

    I agree with Rich its hard to imagine a dev making 4000 worthwhile apps. I would like to know the rest of the story however. I think Google need to come out and define what is and is not acceptable on the market just so that the rules are clear.

  • DThor

    Yeah, I support what they did. I understand that fear of the 'slippery slope', but let's remember Apple was the way they were from day one – they aggressively prune, rule and control the app store. Stripping out 6000 obvious 'crapplications' isn't the same thing IMHO. I am curious about exactly what those apps were, though. The assumption is the girlie wallpaper type apps, wonder if that's true.

  • Glamar

    Not sure I like the idea of dumping these apps so none of us can see them, but I would love it if we could block a developer so his crapps (determined by each of us) can stop showing up in the market. This way we can clean what we want. Or have a consortium to review apps and let us filter by rating. Then maybe the developers will learn to build better apps.

  • Good movie plus the sound boards most likely violated copywrite laws anyways

  • I guess ideal solution would be ability to down-rank apps including marking app as "spam". Going below certain threshold would prevent such apps to appear anywhere including searches and "just in" list. Then let market take care of its own junk. I think stackoverflow.com is a shining example on how it can and should be done. I also like how on SO if you down-vote someone you actually have to lose some points, so first of all you have to have some points and then you will think twice before down-voting someone.
    But then you can also police your market I actually don't mind that ether

  • Canuck

    Why do we want to be Mini-Apple? Let them have their 1980s-style shareware App Store, while Android focuses on the Web, where the real action is (and a place that Google understands much better than Apple). Seriously, code kiddies — you're probably going to make much less trying to sell your app than you would flipping burgers, and that applies to iPhone or Android.

    Personally, I'd be just as happy for Google to close the Android Market and put its energy into something more useful, like a fully-functional Google Docs mobile site.

  • jason

    @glamar i completely agree. give the users the power to block devs they don't like.

    also, this isn't like apple. for starters, the iphone app store has a lot of crap. apple doesn't filter on crappiness, unfortunately. the biggest reason this isn't like apple though is that it's possible to install apps in ways other than the app store and it's possible for alternative app stores to exist without the user having to jump through ridiculous hoops.

    i'm completely in favor of curated content stores.

  • "Three developers in a matter of a few weeks with over 6,000 tittles between them doesn't sound like chance to us."

    Tittles. Very apt coinage for the dross cluttering the Market at the moment, Android Guys.

  • Shane

    I agree with Glamar,

    I do applaude Google for cleaning up Crapplications, but i think they should allow the users to sort/filter out what we do or dont want to look at.

  • Michelle

    While I do think it might be better to improve the marketplace by allowing users to downvote apps, or something along those lines, rather than unilaterally removing them, I can live with them removing them for one simple reason: Android lets you install non-market apps!! In my opinion, that’s what I dislike most about Apple’s way of dealing with things. You want a nice clean App store with safe well-tested unobjectionable apps that do not reflect poorly upon your company? Fine. Just don’t let it interfere with my ability to decide what I want on MY phone.

  • bob

    yes google should clean up the market, who needs 1500 wallpaper apps containing copyrighted stuff that the author had no rights to use in the first place.

    another example is the ps emulator you advertised yesterday – the author clearly charging money for something that is illegal

    imagine what will happen when the app maker becomes available to everyone.

    I want to browse a marketplace with really good apps – not pages of utter crap – which its in danger of becoming.
    Thats the only thing I will applaud Apple for, although they go too far the opposite way and become nazis.

  • Steve

    I'm no prude and I certainly don't advocate censorship but I'm happy to see the more smutty apps being pulled from the general marketplace. That sort of stuff is fine if it is available in an 'explicit' section of the marketplace, but something is wrong when Snow Girls 3 and Hip Riders 2 are grouped with MiniZoo and Cute Puppies Solitare. Especially when screen shots are included.

  • markb

    It’s called quality control. I think there are too many questionable (garbage) apps out there.

  • Mike

    Personally, I don't want google deciding what is and isn't a "crapplication" for me. if they decided these apps were malicious in some way, that's one thing, But if they just decided they had no value – then they shouldn't have been pulled.

    These apps all follow the same common pattern: they're actually the same app with different data files – possibly just a few words – plugged into the build. Soundboards, wallpaper collections, ringbacks and PD ebooks being high on my list of such crapplications. I'd rather have a single generic app I can plug the data files into myself. I can also see how you could set up a framework to produce a few thousand of these an hour. But guess what – the apple store is full of pretty much the same damn things.

    If Apple isn't filtering them, what's the justification for google filtertering them?

  • MyDixieWrecked

    It's about time! The market needs a good cleanup. Tell you the truth I wouldn't mind if google got a little more strict with what should, and should not be on there. Keep cleaning guys!

  • I imagine something else is amiss, and those developers violated some terms. I can't imagine Google suddenly deciding what they want or don't want on the Market.
    I do wish there were better filtering tools… I think anyone should have the right to put crap on the market, but that doesn't mean I want to see it :).

  • Tony

    This was great news!

  • Matt J.

    Cleaning out obvious crapware is long overdue. But it is simply wrong to raise the alarm and wring your hands over the dire prospect of this making it like the iPhone App Store, with Apple's draconian control.

    Truth is, there is no need to resort to draconian control to clean out crapware. Rather, the latter is just due diligence. It was the previous 'hand-off' policy that was irresponsible.

  • Damien

    There's a difference between the Apple model of not allowing apps that duplicate functionality of the phone, uses certain UI's, etc and the Android model of removing "spammy" and buggy developers.

    I don't develop apps, but I'll take the Android model any day.

    It also gives me hope that we may be less likely to see a tremendous amount of crappy apps flood the market from the Android App Inventor if Google flexes some filtering muscle.

  • They should have a way to curate the market. If something has 3 five-star ratings and a one-star rating, then It should be rated lower than something with 1500 total ratings averaging three-stars.

  • mikedminor

    An app is an application or a program that runs on a specific platform. Under this definition, many of the things in the marketplace do not qualify as apps. This may be why google continously claims that there are fewer apps in the marketplace than does androlib.

    I think that google should, completly categorize the marketplace (1st layer deep at this point).

  • Tomaco

    if you go to market – free games- just in
    you will see 2 "devs" free4android and me4android
    I think its the same person and he is "making" tottaly shitty java based games, he has got "only" about 300 games but still, BAN him!

    • bozon

      Well they are not making anything, they are stealing j2me base games, recompile them with microsimulator or similar framework adding some ads and here we go, moreover they are republishing each apps everyday or so with changed package and title (you cannot get to just in list if you put updates in too short timespans)

  • dubyajaysmith

    Open to me means open. Let us vote if anything. I never download crapps any way so I may not be the one to ask. My nexus and I are just fine the way it is. Because were open

  • Larry

    Don't like censorship, do like decrappification. Censorship has a sliding scale of acceptibility. I can reject those apps.

  • LAubin

    I love the idea of cleaning up a lot of these cheap, sex, sex, sex apps and also the "test" apps and the like. There's way too much junk floating around. I'm not a prude, but there's not a lot of worth or usefulness to a lot of these apps. Moderation though should be the keyword!

  • LAubin

    Also, I agree that we should be able to filter our views and also have a way to restrict what we see while exploring the app store. I think the app store can be imporved in many ways. Like filters, sorting views by date, popularity, free or paid and things of that sort. Also maybe by price range.
    Come on Google, lets update and improve the market…

  • ThewT

    It doesn't matter to me one bit what Google chooses to do with their Market. Why? Because simply by checking a box in my Android phone, I can install non-Market applications. Heck, there are already developers selling their products through channels outside of Market. The ease of bypassing the Market ecosystem means it is untenable to make any comparison with Apple's locked-down gated community, where the App store is your ONLY source of apps.

  • Justin

    Google has a long way to go until they are Apple. There is no place in the market for SPAM however. When Google starts denying apps because they compete with their own apps then we'll start comparing Google to Apple.

  • DigitalZen

    I think Google has an obligation to insure that there are no apps on the site that are potentially harmful to users. “Crap apps” are far more likely to harbor harmful code than well-written apps that perform some function besides satisfying prurient interest. I thought Apple was smart to exclude them, and I think the Market needs similar policing. It has nothing to do with morality or taste, simply probability of security issues. If questionable behavior is discovered, then of course all the developer’s apps should be removed immediately.

    People who are stupid enough to surf porn sites without a sandbox will no doubt deplore any such moves. Those who have some background in internet security and malware defense will think as I do. Google have to consider their least sophisticated customers. I doubt you’ll see them removing any Playboy apps, but the XXX for free sites…they’d be foolish not to.

  • hazydave

    I have no problem with Google eliminating some things from the Android Marketplace.

    In fact, I've been ripped off by some developers. I bought a game from one company that, in an update, all of a sudden stopped functioning on my Droid. They basically just said they wouldn't fix it.. and this was a paid app. Companies like that should be kicked out of the store…. fraud benefits no one.

    I don't agree with the kind of censorship Apple practices. But on the other hand, Apple in all honesty should be filtering less than Google, because there's no alternative. Any of these guys with questionable apps is free to sell them elsewhere. Aside from the fairly reasonable restriction of "no alternate Marketplace Apps should be offered through Android Market", I'm happy if they censor crap. I'm not happy if it's "political" in nature… if they started to dis-allow apps simply because Google makes something similar, as Apple has always done. But I don't see that being their goal.

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