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 2014, 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 Trezentos and Alvaro Pinto, June 2014