Google Extends Market Refund Window to 48 Hours; Pulling Spam Apps from Market?


Let’s face it: with the openness of the Android market comes a pretty foul cesspool that – instead of nasty sewage – is filled with useless apps. Not to step on the toes of the developers of some of these apps, but the Android market could really do without you clogging it up and getting in the way of the goods. According to AppBrain, one developer – Co. Ltd. – had published over 4,000 apps. To date, most of them appeared to be eBooks with good intentions.

We can’t say there’s a surefire way to describe spam in the Android market (mostly “[name of celebrity or popular entity] Gallery” apps are generally regarded as spam) but something’s not right when you have more apps on the market than most people will be able to hold on their phones (even those with root and apps to SD functionality). The fact that most of the aforementioned company’s offerings were eBooks doesn’t give them a pass: why not offer one platform (like the professionals – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Kobo) and offer the downloads through that?


Similarly, developer StoneJordan had over 500 apps in the Android market. Where are these guys now, you ask? I can’t say for sure, but I can tell you that they aren’t in the Android market. Google will often remove malicious apps or apps that violate the terms of use (either the ones Google’s set for Android or terms set by a carrier). This time, however, is different. It’s not often we see Google bulk-removing a developer’s apps by way of suspending their developer account, and the fact that these two instances occurred within a week of each other gives us cause to believe Google might finally be cracking down.

We’re not sure to what extent they’ll be trying to clean things up – nor do we know if this is some sort of new excursion against spam apps for the long haul – but we like it and we hope Google continues to take the appropriate steps toward creating a better market experience.


If all of today’s market news wasn’t enough (earlier we learned they’re gearing up to bring more purchase options to make purchasing apps easier), you might also be pleased to know that Google’s increased (or will be increasing) the trial period for paid apps in the Android market. The developers behind WidgetLocker told Androinica that the new changes to the developer agreement included the change from a 24-hour period to a 48-hour period for refunding apps and games. As I went to the market to purchase a game it still showed 24 hours. I clicked through to Google’s full refund policy to see if they’d updated anything on their support side and the refund policy there still shows 24 hours, as well.

Perhaps the changes haven’t been implemented just yet in order to give developers time to accept or reject the changes (Google’s giving them 30 days to do so) but the change is definitely coming. As time goes on, it’ll be interesting to see what else Google will end up doing to try and offer users, developers, and anyone else in the Market ecosystem a better experience overall.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. A cleaner market will be a welcome addition to android. :)

  2. TYPO ERROR…shouldn’t that read as AppBrain?

  3. lol…great typo :D AppBrian

  4. I just wish they gave us the option to sort by things like ratings or number of downloads. That would hide a lot of the spam apps instantly.

  5. Making the Market more user friendly is always a good thing.

  6. A cleaner market would be welcome. I just hope they don’t go crazy and turn it into the Apple app store. Denying free wifi tether.

  7. Do we know for a fact that Google removed the spam? Maybe the guy just changed his mind and is doing something else. I have a hard time believing that Google would just remove something, as opposed to giving users the tools to block them. (you know, the whole open market thing) Or, I could be dead wrong.

  8. @Quentin Biles – Filtering and sorting would definitely be welcome!

  9. I am GRAMMARCOP! Appbrian is a typo

  10. I like the idea of cleaning out the obvious spam from the app store, but I worry where the line will be drawn. I don’t want to see Google removing apps based on moral or speech issues.

    I went with Android to avoid the “AOL for phones” that Apple has created, I hope Google doesn’t head down that road.

  11. I would love being able to look through the market without having to scroll through all the junk. It’s about the only tedious thing on the platform. If Google could create a “junk” category and transfer them all to there, that would save them deleting them all. I think that would keep those *devs* and the kids or whoever else downloads them happy. Maybe adding a “mark as spam” option in with the inappropriate flag so that the public can decide. Whatever happens though, only good things can come from this.

  12. @Dirble it’s not known as fact. I reported it as a rumor.

  13. This is a BAD move on Google’s part for legitimate game developers. All too often comments read “Great game, refunding it,” sure one could read this as “Increase your game-play length.” But ask yourself this: your paying 3 bucks for a game on a mobile phone developed by a couple of indie garage developers, what do you expect, a 20 hour opus on a handset? These are intended to be quick twitch games, buy it and kill an hour while waiting for your flight to board, play it while taking a shit. Sure it will hurt the asshats out there trying to make a quick buck on idiots by publishing non-functioning spam apps, or the devs who didn’t bother to put in the extra QA work to make their game worth a damn, but it will hurt the legitimate game developers even more.

  14. I’m glad that google is finally looking out for the app market! Hopefully this helps Googles market place.

  15. I’m glad Google is clearing up the spam… but until they offer a way to sell something from inside your app the developers will not be able to combine them. Take eBooks for example: Let’s say each of those 4000 eBooks was $0.99. The developer would have 2 options, combine them into one app for $4000, or sell them individually on the market. If he could easily sell them from his app then there would be no need to upload all of them to the market.

    @Jason Rall
    While true, a good game will have it’s users want to play it again. This stands true for any app. They are also only allowed to refund it once, if they choose to download it again then there will be no option to refund it. In other words, if they intended on keeping your app in the first place then it doesn’t matter if its 24 hours or 48 hours.

  16. GO GOOgLE GOOgLE GO!!! :)

  17. @Daniel – personally, I’m tired of seeing a million e-books packaged as apps. Sell ebooks on Kindle or one of the other e-book stores and keep the app stores for apps.

    @Jason Rall – I don’t care if an app is a game or serious productivity app: if an app is worth using for more than a few minutes, it’ll be worth keeping. Extending the window to 48 hours won’t make me any more likely to “rent” apps, but it will make me feel better about trying paid apps – especially the more expensive ones.

    What I don’t like are app vendors that invoke their own DRM schemes to get around app store rules – for example, some apps require an in-app or off-store purchase to activate, and they’re locked to one phone.

  18. 48 hours for a refund? Do you rally think developers are going to believe that “paid app pledge” now? Sure, its greqt for the consumer but TERRIBLE for the publisher. Looks like I’ll be buying the iOS SDK after all. Thqt way I can make some actualy money.

  19. Sorry for all the typos in my post. But honestly Google, you need to remember that developers have options, and some of those options I’ll actually make them some money. It’s time to man up and get on the developers side if you want to surpass apple.

  20. The 48 hour move is not a smart one. I think 24 hours is fair, but 48? This is not going to please developers at all, and even though I am not a developer, I can see how this would really hurt them. I mean, shouldn’t you know by 24 hours if the app is worth it? Google should not do this.

  21. the amount of spam apps lately is getting really annoying which started to push me away from the market and stop using it

  22. I think instead of a 48 hour turnaround, they should focus on the ‘uninstall reason’ and give users to opportunity to ‘come back’ for another try after say 14 days or whenever the publisher releases a new version. I can’t count the number of apps I’ve downloaded only to find they either outright do not work on the Evo 4G (though they do say 2.1 Android compatible) or are so bug ridden that I cannot justify paying any amount of cash for it. (There’s no way to know if a developer is making abandon-ware just for the cash).

    I uninstall all of these apps and usually am not even asked why.. sometimes it does ask, but even then there’s no option for “too buggy, will try later” or the like.

    I’d love to go back to those apps and retry them in the future, but honestly the way things are now, if a developer can’t put a version for my device available for free to try, they don’t get my business EVER :(

  23. I can see how game developers would have an issue with the 48 hours, but on other stuff, I think it’s a good idea. If I download an app that has location based attributes or something that I only use for certain situations then it might take more than 24 hours for me to decide if it’s truly useful and does what I need it to. If it does, then I’m keeping it.

    Games are completely different since they can be played out to boredom or completed within a short time period. I don’t begrudge a good developer a payday for their app. Even before the market had paid apps, I’d donate to developers that made apps I found useful. So downloading a game, enjoying it, playing it through and then refunding it seems incredibly crappy to me… I’d go so far as to call it theft.

    Seems like they could easily set the limit for apps to 48 hours and leave games at 24 hours, or even shorten the time for games to 12.

    It sucks that there tends to be an “us against them” mentality between devs and end users. I want great apps. I’m willing to pay for great apps. We’re not all looking to rip off your hard work.

  24. Yes i could buy your game, beat it, and return it in 12, 24, OR 48 hours. But if your game can be beaten in less than 12 hours and its not something people will want to hang on to, expect refunds. Now here’s my real problem: some devs still make apps copy protected – complain about piracy all you want but if i can’t back up your app don’t expect my money. Too many updates cripple apps. And with all these different phones, everyone on the market could love an update except me and my phone. So please don’t tell me to wait for comments in the market, either. I find it annoying that I have to be concerned about whether or not to update a copy protected app because I’ll never get that working version back again if I update and it breaks.

  25. Looking forward to the 48 hour trial time. It will encourage me to take a gamble on more possibly good apps :-)

    Yes the spam needs some filtering, the gallery apps that come up all from the same dev under a search with no relevance are quite annoying..

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