Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Enough is Enough: when Google Evil reaches Android App Stores


We grew up admiring Google. Way back in 2000 we were first in our class to use Google. As USENET users, we defended Google even when the company bought Dejanews and dropped some of its services. “Don’t be evil”, Google’s motto, was our inspiration: it transforming people’s lives with technology while respecting an ethical approach to business which back then meant “not on Microsoft’s side”.  How times have changed.

So when we decided to put in practice our search expertise (translation: applying for a PhD to do something useful to the world) we decided to contribute to developing the Android platform. From the very start, our vision for Aptoide has been to provide services for anyone / and for any organisation to be able to create their own Android App Store. The first version of Aptoide was released in 2009, and has grown from three lonely users to six million unique monthly users. Aptoide’s talented team now powers the stores of small wearable companies, (makers of body-borne computers or ‘wearables’), education tablets, Chinese OEM / ODM, telecom companies all over the world.  Our motto is “Create your own Android Market” but between the lines you can read “and while doing that, don’t be evil”.

Indeed, Google has now become our biggest challenge to continued growth and innovation. Google has spent the last two years undermining Aptoide and other App Stores by changing the rules: suspending the competitors in Google Play, creating unexpected and unnecessary complexity in installing from “Unknown Sources”, taking services from the Android Open Source Project and bundling them into its own proprietary interface API (GMS). Google’s goal is simple: prevent consumers and organisations from choosing an App Store based on the quality of the technology.

In early June (2014) Google Play suspended an app called “Android resources” which included information about several Android projects just because it featured Aptoide as one of the featured projects. 

But Google is no longer an innovative or inspirational start-up and sadly no longer honours its “Don’t be evil” mission. 

In fact Google has forgotten that Android sits on the shoulders of a giant, Linux, and that Android’s value comes from the creative contributions of start ups and innovators. But for them to survive, Android publishers and end users must be able to chose their Apps distribution channel solely, by the quality and conditions provided.

We are therefore sending today a message to our Aptoide team, to Aptoide’s six million users and to the wider Android community: We.Are.At.War.

First, today Monday, 16 June we have filed a legal complaint with DG Competition (European Commission) against Google, Inc. for two years of anti-competitive behaviour by which it has systematically undermined our ability to reach our customers through a number of obstacles. These include the unnecessary and increasing complexity for consumers wanting to install ‘Unknown Sources’ like Aptoide on their Android platforms;  the bundling of their services through Google Play;  and the blatant suspensions of our services.

Secondly, we will join forces with other independent App Stores to forge a common front. If needed, our efforts will extend to supporting an alternative Android platform based in Cyanogen, Nokia X or Yandex.

Finally, we will not give up developing the best technology for Android App Stores. And, in the end, that is what counts.

Paulo and Alvaro
 June 2014


15 comments:

  1. So basically Aptoide is complaining because Google doesn't allow them to list their competing app store on Google Play? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you unaware of the ability in every single Android device to sideload content (including app stores)? Anyone can add their app store if they want it, just not from Google Play. That's like ford suing Mercedes for not allowing them to sell ford cars in Mercedes dealerships. Name a single operating system provider that actively allows other app stores to be listed and downloaded from their own app store. Better yet, name any other mobile Operating System that allows other app stores to be side-loaded to their operating system. Currently there are tons of other app stores operating for Android and in some markets (such as Russia and China) they are even more popular than Play itself. It is worth noting that these App Stores can also often be major sources for Android Malware, which is one of the principal reasons Google keeps them off Play and the reason official Android builds all come with side-loading turned off (yet still available) by default.

    I'm Curious as to whether Aptoide plans on filing similar Lawsuits against Apple, Blackberry, Mozilla and Microsoft seeing that all of them also restrict the listing of competing app stores in their own default stores. This isn't a case of abuse of market position. It is a case of a company trying to use the courts to give them an economic leg up that they are not entitled to.

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    1. Hi Gabriel,
      Thanks for your comment and I see your point. I can't go in much legal detail in this phase but soon we will release the legal text of the complaint.
      The definition of economical market where Android is located is: Operating Systems that can be licensed (or open source) to any mobile hardware manufacturer to integrate. Besides Android, we have FirefoxOS, UbuntoOS, and Windows Mobile. Of course, we don't have iOS in this market. That's another market ....
      Android has 90%-95% (depending of the region) of that market. Such a share, is considered a dominant position.
      Using your analogy, is like Mercedes having 95% of the market. Is not wrong, but then Mercedes should take special precautions when it tries to be dominant in other markets upstream in the economical pipeline. For instance, imagine that Mercedes puts in the cars a special device for the car only work with Mercedes Gas Stations. The other Gas providers (BP, Shell, Exon, ....) would not have any chance, do they ?

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  2. I really hope you guys fail with this legal claim. It's like the above poster said sideload, if thats not good enough for you then build your own os then you can do what you want with it. As for me and the people I know I'll stick with Google. Also curious like above poster if you've actually got the balls to go up against all these big companies. I mean you already started down the path with Google don't stop now. Can't wait to see you guys get shut down hard if you do go after them all.

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  3. Wow... what a show of ignorance...

    I am not even sure what an *Android* driven company has anything to do with other completely different kinds of markets?

    Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft and every other are totally different markets. Other than the common denomination of their software products as "apps", they are totally different businesses. Would you fill a complaint against a company that produced cars for instance, when you produce tricycles for kids? It just doesn't make any sense, you're not competing against cars, unless the fact they both have wheels and a driver's seat would be common enough for you to consider it as competition....

    Furthermore, the critical difference here is that Android was promoted by Google as being open source and allowing external app stores, that's what made it essentially grow, while the premise of others was the exact opposite from the start.
    The problem now is that Android has now the vast majority of the market, and Google is trying to back-pedaling to the same premise as the others, and is doing it successfully, and is contributing to people's ignorance relative other stores.

    I can't even manage to count the amount of ignorant people that claim that Google Play is more secure and reliable without even knowing or trying other app stores, and I can clearly demonstrate a simple example where Aptoide for instance is a lot more secure than Google Play:
    http://technology.store.aptoide.com/app/market/com.christmas.stuff.flying.santa.lwp/1/2048004/Flying%20Santa%20Live%20Wallpaper
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.christmas.stuff.flying.santa.lwp

    Do you spot the difference? It's the same app, and there are people complaining in Google Play about the app for the exact reason Aptoide lists as "warning". Google Play allows this sort of thing and doesn't tell people what each app actually has, it's a box of surprises, while Aptoide flags all the apps and lets the user know if it's ok to install or if we should be careful, that's why personally I rely more on Aptoide than Google Play for instance (to not mention that Aptoide allows apps that Play removed for no logic reason).

    Now, why people are not aware of this? Because people do not know even the existence of other app stores, and they have no direct way of being able to since all the smartphones that come with Google shipped in them make it painfully hard, always giving the wrong idea that you shouldn't get near other app stores.

    Anyway, there are a couple of news around where Aptoide goes in much deeper detail about each claim, and some of them are sound and justified, like one where they show that from Android 2.1 to the newest ones, it became progressively harder for people to be able to use other app stores, while some others I honestly don't think they are, like the ability to put the app directly there (Google Play is free to not allow them after all), but they all show Google's intentions clearly.

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  4. I'm glad Aptoide had the courage to form a complaint about what is definatly an abuse on behalf of such "G" company. The above comments say that this is about competition. But the thing is that what kind of competition are we talking about? Loyal or Disloyal? You see, being Americans, I kind of understand the "G" company. This means of course that usualy, when Americans don't like how the rules are writen, they change them. Well friends. We write rules for the greater good. Only when the greater good is in jeopardy we must change them. And despite what some American companies might think, the "G" company does not represent the majority of the whole freaking planet. I as a programmer have seen the "chalenges" that Google have presented to several companies (and not just aptoide) over the years. They (aptoide), don't just have a problem with having their products on Google Play Store. I'm talking about real problems and pressures to even having their projects accepted by other companies. That's illegal. Aptoide and the European Union are gonna kick this "G" company's butt in court and you know what? They have my complete support.

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  5. The definition of economical market where Android is located is: Operating Systems that can be licensed (or open source) to any mobile hardware manufacturer to integrate. Besides Android, we have FirefoxOS, UbuntoOS, and Windows Mobile.
    smart phone

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  6. Thanks for the post, it is interesting.

    Picreel

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  7. So where do I now get aptoide from?

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    1. You can always download it at aptoide.com

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  8. Please help me! It doesnt work, although when I installed Aptoide first time, it works. Why doesnt work now? When I enter in my Store and than in an application says "No apk was found with the given apkip and apkversion." Thank you.

    My E-mail: the_hydra_man@yahoo.com

    Please respound. Thanks.

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  12. Bravo Aptoide !. Aptoide is always my preferable store as google play store has so many services that lagged the phone performance. It's interesting that your brilliant team has now declared a war againts this Giant "G" that monopolising the apps market. Good to GO ! thumbs up.

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