Daily question: How open can open be?


When you see an application listed as FREE you expect it to be FREE, right? So did we. Little did we know that when you download applications like “Fast Food Calorie Calculator” its sole purpose in life is to direct you to the MobiHand website so you can PURCHASE the application for $9.99!

I’m not sure how many different ways I can explain how obnoxious this is. It destroys the user experience. I loaded the application description and chose to “flag content” for “other reasons” and simply put “not free” in the text box. I hope they get kicked off the market. Although if they do… it opens up a HUGEEEEEEE can of worms as far as Google regulating the market, which it is NOT supposed to do.

One of the principal arguments against the Apple App Store offered by open source advocates was its “closed” nature. Apple’s subsequent de-listings of fewer than 5 apps among 5,500 was Evidence A that the company’s control was unreasonable.

As the emphasized passage above from the Phandroid site shows, Android phone fans are conflicted when confronted with reality. Mind you, G1 is still very much a geek’s phone, for those who care about the plumbing. What happens when Android-powered phones reach the broader consumer market and tricksters start getting more and more cunning with re-direction, add-on pricing, fake apps, proxy markets, etc?

Can we expect non-geek consumers to successfully self-regulate the Android App Market, without Google’s verboten intervention?

6 thoughts on “Daily question: How open can open be?

  1. Berend: “good regulation isn’t obvious at all”

    Darn right. Curating a (virtual or physical) store is a formidable but unavoidable challenge, as I have argued in Resolved: Apple is right to curate the App Store.

    The first question asked by open source advocates should not be “is it open?” (I’m putting together a longer article about that.) One of the things I wish open source community could grok more readily is the fact that many people buy the iPhone because the user experience, including the App Store, is in fact curated, not in spite of it.

  2. I can agree very much with Jan that the Android Market is an interesting experiment but the Apple Appstore seems to have found a very balanced model.

    An obvious resemblance about self regulation might be Alan Greenspan’s recent recognition that financial markets might not be able to self regulate so well… A balance between freedom and regulation is needed and this balance is so damn difficult. Which means: good regulation isn’t obvious at all.

  3. Kristopher: “Does the gaming world have a similar situation?”

    The problem for Android in this regard is the potentially malicious and fraudulent aspects of apps in a transactional environment that can do real damage.

  4. Does the gaming world have a similar situation? World of Warcraft as an example, the end users can create custom UI’s for the game, via an SDK, that enhances the interface’s capabilities. Based on popularity (word of mouth and ranking on the download sites)the good ones bubble to the surface and the garbage falls off the radar.

  5. Jan: “The Android Appstore is an interesting experiment.”

    I too am looking at it with interest. I am genuinely interested in seeing if end-users can self-regulate. It rarely works. But I’m all for experimentation on this, some of the open source naivete notwithstanding.

  6. The Android Appstore is an interesting experiment. Having worked in the telco business for over ten years, I know how closed the business is (was?). When my former company launched the Walled Garden model (together with its large operator-customers), I just shook my head in disbelief. Having said that, I know how society have historically viewed the strategic value of telecommunications. Therefore, I understand Apple’s concern, and even the operators concern. With Apple’s Appstore, I think we have reached a balanced model that will benefit all stakeholders, end-users and operators as well as application developers.

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