Android Market Woes Spill Over to Developer

If you were to ask any avid user of Android what one of the glaring problems of the platform is, most likely you would hear either about fragmentation, or the fact that the app Market has some significant hurdles to overcome.  We have long talked about the fact that to attract new developers to create better and faster apps for the Android masses, Google would have to take some significant steps.  When developers call the Android environment the “Wild West” of developing, it is not a good thing.

Case in point.  This week, Zodttd, a developer who is known for developing game emulators on Apple devices released a Play Station 1 emu for Android, an exciting development for the community.  As soon as the word got out that the app was in the market, there was a flood of about 6000 people who went to purchase and download the app.  The only thing was, the Android Market would not let about 5,400 of the purchasers, this writer included, download the app at all.  The Market would let you buy the app, then it would hang up permanently on the “authorizing” purchase dialog.

When this happened, Zodttd got flooded with pleading emails from customers begging for help, some polite, a lot angry and some simply wanting their money back.  The problem for the dev was that he was in a virtual no-man’s land.  On his end, he had received no money to refund, but his customers were holding receipts in their hands.  He could not get help from Google right away, because there is no phone number to call for help.  In fact, there is no support department for this at all!  You can see the progression of the issue from start to finish through this post log at Google.

So, the perfect storm happened.  A dev who had decided to enter the arena of Android development creates a pretty nice app for the community, tries to get it sold in the Market, and gets jammed by a glitch in the system that makes it look like he has received a bunch of money, but actually hasn’t.  On top of that, he can get no immediate help to fix the problem, and is left to try to email Google as a whole rather than a support individual who could remedy the problem quickly.

Being one of the customers that was following the progress of this issue, I was dumbfounded by how long it took to get a resolution from Google, and as a result, how many sales the dev lost.  It really put on display the glaring issues the Market has.

Google should be working to make the Android development environment and sales structure something that is a joy for devs to work with, not vice versa.  Unless this happens, it is going to be a long, slow, uphill battle for the Market to gain serious steam, and to see the quality of apps that we are hoping for.  Come on Google, it is time to throw some serious work into this area.

  • This

    Grrr. I stopped reading at “the perfect storm happened”. Fail.

  • Seems like a single human being who could answer support calls would be a reasonable thing to have for the vehicle for Google's future success in mobile. Or even a [email protected] address where we could expect a reasonable turnaround. Come on, Google. We want you to be successful along with us! Help us out.

  • Tim

    This article was a refreshing and insightful update from the frequently immature twaddle that litters AndroidGuys.
    The market and Google's customer support model really need a lot of work!

  • M_1

    Google's developer support is almost as bad as their customer support. Android is successful in spite of the Market, not because of it.

  • Coda 81

    Great article, I couldn't agree more. If they want to compete with Apple they need to step their game up, BIG TIME. I have owned iPhones and now and iPad and any issue I have had was always resolved quick and usually resulted in free credits for the inconvenience. The way Google is handling the market needs to be addressed for sure. Once that happens it will attract the quality apps and hopefully support we are all looking for.

  • D. Hamon

    It wasn't limited to this app. I had same experience in trying to purchase / download the paid version of Thinking Space.

  • WarDog

    One of the big gripes a lot of Android developers have is that unless you are one of the 6 countries allowed to sell via Google Checkout you can't actually *sell* an Android app into the official market at all.

    Less than 10% of the world's population can make a dollar from the official market.
    Feels like restraint of trade to me.

  • jpease_in_tpa

    I am a new droid x user. What was described here in the article was exactly what happen when I bought my first app TapaTalk. I did not know who to contact. Eventually after an hour or so the app downloaded and installed.

  • Mihai

    I would suggest that all the people that encounter problems with the Android Market or don't like the way the Market functions nowadays and have suggestions about what should be done to improve it, should write emails directly to Google to complain about it and make suggestions. Perhaps after receiving a tone of emails Google will actually do something in this concern.

  • xarophti

    @David, not a lot you can do about user malfunction. If you build in a bug report function, and users aren't smart enough to reply back when you respond to it , *shrugs*. I have an app or two (done some testing for the devs) that generate automatic reports, and I ALWAYS edit the automatic email first, detailing the circumstances that generated the bug (and SIGN the email). But then again, I like to believe I have two brain cells to rub together.

  • IDtheTarget

    Hm..and here I thought that Android’s open environment for developers would seduce them away from iPhone. Apparently Google hasn’t learned the lesson that Apple is learning now. Hopefully Google learns it quickly enough to let Android gain a larger foothold before Apple starts wising up again and becomes developer friendly…

  • Sheila Smart

    Please contact me in relation to the unlicensed use of my image of a man with his head in his hands.