Google won't trust developers with paid apps

Google has a track record of continually asking for trust. Through its various applications, including Gmail, Docs, StreetView, and especially Latitude, Google readily admits it keeps and uses private user data, but only to "improve the customer experience" and not for any nefarious reasons. In short, Google asks us to trust it. So when it comes to the Android Market, why can't it return the favor and trust its own developer base?

While Google recently rolled out paid apps within its Android Market, it's decided that Google developers who bought unlocked versions of the Android-based G1 phone can't download them. In effect, it's locking developers out because it doesn't trust them. As Wired reports, a Google employee revealed the new policy in the Android discussion forums, saying that due to a recent change made by Google, developers with unlocked phones would be unable to view "any copy-protected application, including Shazam and Calorie Counter."

It's reasoning? Google's afraid developers will pirate the new apps. Wired quotes Google this way:

"The developer version of the G1 is designed to give developers complete flexibility. These phones give developers full permissions to all aspects of the device, including the ability to install a modified version of the Android Open Source Project. We aren't distributing copy protected applications to these phones in order to minimize unauthorized copy of the applications."

So rather than trust its own developers, Google's decided to completely lock them out. Not a good strategy. As one developer stated on AndroidForums.com:

"Google didn't think this through at all! Since you can buy a locked phone root it and do all the things that they are trying to prevent.... Punishing those who develop apps and who eventually will help evolve and further your product isn't the answer by a long shot....

So true, and the timing couldn't be worse. The whole point of adding paid apps to the Android Market was to generate developer interest and get more people actually building and selling innovatives apps for the nascent Android platform. Cutting developers off from new applications is bound to have the opposite effect.

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