Latest Google Play suspension underscores the need for better developer relations


Google Play Store wm watermark

Google strikes another one down with little to no sensible cause. Popular theme developer “the1dynasty” has had their Google Play developers’ account terminated due to what Google says is a failure to comply with their terms of use. According to the developer, Google issued them notices about several of their apps over copyright issues, all of which had some form of “Android” or “Google” in the package name or app name. That bit isn’t surprising — Google almost zapped Phandroid’s wares for the very same reason. They simply don’t want people to use Android in app names in a certain way so as to not confuse people into thinking these are “official” Android apps.

The problem this go ’round is that the developer didn’t fight the issue with Google. They complied immediately, and unpublished every single app Google submitted a complaint about upon receiving the notices. All seemed to be well until the big guys in Mountain View decided to terminate his entire Google Play account (seemingly after the 14-day grace period they now give you to make necessary changes). The developer writes:

Well, its officially official… My developer account has been terminated… Even with the themes that violated the Terms were removed, I am still hit with this automatically created email.

Said email states:

This is a notification that your Google Play Publisher account has been terminated.

REASON FOR TERMINATION: multiple violations of the Content Policy and Developer Distribution Agreement as outlinedd in previous emails sent to the registered email address of your Publisher account.

Please note that Google Play terminations are associated with developers, and may span multiple account registrations and related Google services. If you feel we have made an error, you can visit the Google Play Help Center article for additional information regarding this termination.

Please do not attempt to register a new developer account. We will not be restoring your account at this time.

The Google Play Team

Nothing surprising or out of the ordinary — just your typical canned response. This effectively erased his existence on Google Play. That this happened even after complying with Google’s request only adds fuel to what has become a nasty fire, with said fire being Google’s lack of proper developer relations.

coder coding developer development

The gentleman suspects Google has an automatic flagging system that finds apps with the word “Android” in their name and sends notices to violating developers, but Google’s automated emails and actions indicate the could be automating more than just the initial flag. Where’s the conversation between the developer and a moderator or administrator? Where’s the explanation and the chance to show Google that they’ve attempted to make things right?

Google’s reputation as a lax company when it comes comes to developer relations seems to be a double-edged sword. The good end of the sword is in the initial publishing of apps. Google’s screening system is famously more lax than their competitors. Apple, for instance, manually screens and approves every app that comes to their app store, which not only delays publishing but presents a chance for the app to be denied entrance. On the other hand, Google allows apps to appear in the Google Play Store almost as soon as developers upload them with no real review process to be had. They’d prefer to bust apps after the fact.

The downside to such a lax stance is when it comes to making sure a developer’s livelihood isn’t affected. Their “attack first, ask questions later” method of flagging and removing apps and terminating accounts is a very scary situation for developers who’ve relied on Google Play to afford a meal every night. It’s also a frustrating ordeal for the users downloading the apps.

To a bit of Google’s credit, it’s easy enough to appeal a decision to terminate an account and get back onto the road of recovery, but why should it have gotten this far? Why doesn’t Google provide an email address for developers manned by an actual human being to contact upon receiving Google Play violation notices? Why wasn’t he able to show Google that he removed the apps upon receiving the notices to avoid having his account terminated in the first place? And who’s to say the appeal will even work out (our own experiences suggest he should be able to get this sorted, but you never know)?

It’s a problem that’s probably never going to be 100% rectified in the near future, but we’re of the opinion that Google could be doing a lot more to help out the very folks who’ve allowed them to build as big of a software ecosystem as they have. Let’s hope this gentlemen finds his way in due time (otherwise we could be losing his awesome talents to the iOS customization scene).

[via Google+]

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. Just like user support for any of their services, there aren’t actually any *people* at Google.


    1. It’s probably the company’s biggest weakness. They tend to rely on on technology to replace human interaction. It’s like how they have no support phone numbers and expect everyone to work things out through email, which only delays things.

      1. Email would actually be good. Most of the support is based on articles and knowledgebase pages.

      2. They do have telephone support. You fill in an online form and it immediately rings your phone and puts you through to support with a real live person. I have done this quite a few times for work and personal issues with Google products.

        1. Yea chrome os devices have phone support from Google ninjas

    2. I’m going to have to disagree with you there – I’ve actually spoken to live people (not automated messages/e-mails) when ordering through their Play store *as well as* when dealing with developer-based issues. The problem is that too many people just try to go through things via one path, rather than take alternative measures like actually CALLING somewhere…

    3. Rubbish. I have spoken to people at google several times, their support is terrific… if you actually have BOUGHT something from them (understandably).

  2. Seriously Google is becoming Goo(f)le.

  3. Why not prevent the listing of an app with Google or Android in the name from the start? Upload of the .apk should have generated a validation error preventing the listing in the first place with no chance of causing an account termination.

  4. I absolutely agree with Google. It is not the wild west! They have a brand and will be blamed if someone buys some app that is called “Android XYZ” thinking it is an Android official app. Also, they have a right to protect their name. Surely? That does not make them evil at all, just conscious of keeping their NAME in good standing. Using their name is throwing it to the wolves, anyone could make any old crap and call it Google something or other…

    1. When you comply with their request and they terminate your account anyway, there is something wrong.

      It’s kind of like getting your car registered and then getting a ticket afterwards for not having your car registered.

      1. Actually its more like, you get a license to drive, you speed, drive drunk, have multiple moving violations. You promise the judge youre not going to do it again, but then just do it again. In the end we really dont know if he complied or not. We’re taking his word over Google’s. Who’s to say whose lying.

        1. Google has a history of poor developer relations as mentioned in the article.

          1. Maybe developers should read and abide by the rules instead of waiting for Google to send them take-down emails.

          2. I totally agree. However, this article was complaining about what happened after such a scenario. A point other commenters have seemed to miss.

    2. Did you fully read the article? Your comment makes me believe you’ve only skimmed it or failed to comprehend what actually happened.

  5. Keep in mind this is the same developer who open sourced his icon pack template for other devs (and non-devs) to use. It’s simply unfair to terminate someone like that after complying with the ToS. :/

    1. We also need to keep in mind that we are only hearing one side of the story. Regardless of the dev’s past work, that in no way mitigates any current/future situations.

      1. My thought exactly. There are two sides to every story. Sadly, since Google is generally quiet on the issue, we are not likely to hear the other side

        1. Google have restored his account. So googles side is they did a backflip, worse than politicians!

      2. This wouldn’t be the case if a company of any size got their account terminated. They’d probably get their account back up in less than a day. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for individual developers…

  6. Google has ALWAYS sucked when it comes to people relations. If it can be automated, Google will do it. If it requires an actual person to do something, you might as well be trying to make a phone call to Mars.

    1. If you contact Google support via their website they ring you back immediately, I have had work and personal issues where I needed support and I have had no trouble speaking to someone about it. Case in point was the recent issues with the play store not allowing installs and updates, I had a call open with them and they spoke to me immediately and they contacted me regularly with updates. Its their developer relationships that seem to need addressing.

      1. I spent weeks trying to get a response from Google regarding their commercial maps product. Nothing. Left phone messages that weren’t returned, and sent emails that gave me automated responses to an other email address to write to, which weren’t responded to.

  7. “attack first, ask questions later” 

    This is obviously and completely false. The branding guidelines have been publicly posted and advertised for years. Warnings were sent out to both Phandroid and this Dev. In this Developers case we don’t know if he complied, but even then he obviously had multiple violations. At some point you have to put a limit on the number of violations that are allowed. You can’t just let people keep breaking copyright and trademark law for their own profit and only slap them on the wrist.

    The tone of this article is far too whiny. Everything here has been done out in the open. Rules were set and broken multiple times. At most this should be a cautionary tale.

  8. If there are warnings previously in place outlining Google’s policies, then they have every right to terminate any developer’s account if found to be in violation of said policies…without question.
    Simple…don’t violate their policies., don’t get your account terminated.

    1. You missed the part where this developer removed all of the offending apps as soon as he got the warnings, but still had his account terminated.

      1. Actually no, I did not. There are clearly marked policies already in place that the dev decided to ignore. It’s the devs’ responsibility to know Google’s policies prior to listing their apps/games/etc. This is why the dev’s account was terminated without incident…because he/she was in violation of the policies. If I go out today and decide to murder someone, it’s my responsibility to know and understand there are laws against it…they will throw me in jail without warning. Duh.

        1. Why did Google do a backflip and restore his account???? Hmmmmm

          1. Dunno, I don’t work for Google…maybe because the ordeal has raised controversy. Maybe because the dev said “I’m sorry”. Probably not because Google feels like they are in the wrong. Policies are policies.

          2. Keep sticking you’re head in the sand. Better yet go join the apple side. Google farked up, it happens, they have a history of it even, but they’ve fixed things. Defending them when they make a bad decision doesn’t help Android users.

          3. How about I stick your head in the sand?…this wasn’t personal, moron…now apparently it is.
            Perhaps Google did make a mistake, perhaps they did not…do you have proof either way?
            Fact is, there are policies in place for many reasons, one being to protect us Android users from downloading malicious and misleading content. If a dev violates the policies in place, their account should be terminated, no questions asked.

          4. How about you read the article fully. The indignation comes from Google canceling his account after complying with their requests. If they wanted to ban the dev they could have done that originally instead they asked him to correct some things which the dev did and then they banned him anyway.

            I am not condoning the original breach of Google’s guidelines. You however have failed to realise what the article was actually discussing and are here talking about a different issue. So, who is the poser?

          5. I did fully read the article. If Google decided to give the dev another chance after terminating him, so-be-it.
            He initially broke the rules…it’s black and white. How many users did he mislead before Google issued their complaints. Don’t care if he complied after receiving those emails. It’s all the devs’ responsibilities to know the rules beforehand…break’em and you’re gone. Simple. Maybe they’ll reinstate your account like they did this guy. But it sure got him to act fast on it instead of taking his sweet ass time, didn’t it?

          6. You’re still talking about a completely different issue and unwilling to discuss the issue that this article raised.

            You seem to be delusional if you think my account has been suspended.

            Given the above two points I don’t think there’s any point attempting to discuss this further with you.

          7. I’m delusional? If you can’t comprehend the point I’m making about the above topic (yes, the one above), then I recommend you brush up on your reading skills…my point has nothing to do with your Play account, unless the above article is about you. If that’s the case, then we all know why Google terminated your account…if you can’t keep up with the rest of us here, you definitely won’t understand Google’s policies. Have a nice day.

          8. Simple comprehension fails you. You stated ‘Maybe they’ll reinstate your account like they did this guy’. The implication being that I have a suspended account! Otherwise what is there to reinstate!?! Anyway like I said before I better stop feeding the troll but when you shoot yourself in the foot so bad I’ve got to point it out. Please go learn to read and comprehend english.

          9. Using the words “your account” was a generation and not necessarily about you, UNLESS the above article is actually about you, which none of us know if you’re the poor, anonymous soul that Google terminated, then reinstated. But, I did not assume that it was actually you…ever.
            Wow, did I really just need to articulate that to you? You better just stick to reading these posts rather than adding comments to the thread because you’re an awful lot of work.

          10. generation = generalisation? There you go again confusing people with your own special language.

            Your has a pretty specific definition in English: ‘belonging to or associated with the person or people that the speaker is addressing’. As you were addressing me, the use of ‘your’ specifically refers to me! Your inability to comprehend and use the English language correctly is not my problem but a good example of how to use ‘your’ correctly.

          11. Generalization…with a “z”, not an “s” is correct English and it was a spell check error, not mine.

          12. Only if you use American English as opposed to the Queens English. You seem ignorant of a lot of things.

            I guess you’re conceding the argument if you’ve stooped to trying to make it about erroneously perceived spelling errors and failing to argue the point. A piece of advice, that generally works better if you actually pick a real spelling error!

          13. I’m not American, I’m Canadian and that’s besides the point, as is what you’ve turned this debate into…picking apart words and reading ones that don’t exist. You’re calling me out on a spell check error? If you must, I typed “generalization”, it was spell check (obviously, on my phone) that inserted “generation” and I missed it. Just how you wrote “You see ignorant of a lot of things” in your last reply and quickly edited it to “You seem ignorant of a lot of things”, thinking I wouldn’t catch that, but it’s a beautiful thing when the original quotes are pushed to email, not the edits.

            You can keep blathering on aimlessly if you want…I thought you were done awhile back. But I’m finished having this elementary conversation with you. Speaking of elementary, you must be one of those kids that got the snot beaten out of him everyday by guys like me…I would’ve laid you the F out.

          14. Canada is in North America. Geography 101. Besides I never said you were American just that you use ‘American English’. YOU REALLY DO HAVE COMPREHENSION PROBLEMS, perhaps you should take a remedial English class.

            Have you figured out how to use ‘your’ correctly yet?

            I’m not surprised you need to settle arguments with fists not words.

        2. They gave him 14 days to bring his apps into compliance or remove them, or else he’d lose his account. He removed the offending apps within the 14 days and they still terminated him.

  9. I remember replying to a DMCA take down request and getting a response about 6 months later. I try to love Google, but too many of their products have almost no support. Bugs that aren’t news worthy will go unanswered for years with no way to speak with a person.

    That’s one thing Apple deserves credit for, there’s always a real person you can reach. If your app gets rejected, you can actually reply. Of course, that’s probably what the annual fee is for.

  10. Goolge Play still doesn’t have a great reputation. There’s a reason why iOS has more apps, and better quality versions of the same ones we have. Developers don’t like the Play Store. These stupid rules, and sudden actions are not the way to entice them to make apps for our OS. This pushes them away, and makes the informed users (us!) lose respect for a company that usually does the right thing. There’s not even a way we can contact Google. They don’t want to know if the users upset by their actions and that’s awful.
    I love Google, but am not happy about this. I’m not a developer, so I don’t know their struggles but I can see how Google’s stupid rule and abrupt actions could essentially ruin someone’s life. That isn’t okay, it’s evil.

  11. This developer just got his account restored this morning.

    Yay, the good guys win! :D

  12. okay everyone go home. The Dev account has been restored period.

  13. hello. i have the same issue. My app Building a perfect body with more than 1milion downloads from the begging of 2013 and other similar apps were deleted by google because of violating of spam policy. The line of spam is “keyword: weight training, workout, build muscle, bodybuilding, exercises, fitness plan, personal trainer, program, massive growth, gain mass, gym training, diet, burn fat”. i had this line 2 years and nobody complained about it and now my apps are removed and my account suspended because of multiple violations. What can i do to recover my app and my account? Regards, George

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