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back to article Google to app devs: Use our pay system ... OR ELSE

Google has been threatening developers who are using alternative in-app payment mechanisms, enforcing the T&Cs which allow it to kick out anyone accepting payments which are not routed through Google. The news comes from Reuters*, which claims to have emails from Google giving developers 30 days to switch their in-application …

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FAIL

Are they merging with Apple?

Goople / Appoogle

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Devil

Re: Are they merging with Apple?

I don't see why anyone is surprised. It's not ideal, but that's how it is. Google / Apple own their respective marketplaces, and charge sellers in that marketplace to be able to operate there. As a principle it's no different to the owner of a mall charging shops in the mall a management fee, some of which is going towards common advertising for the whole mall (which results in far more effective advertising for the shops than if they were to advertise individually), keeping up the standards of the mall (security, cleanliness) etc.

The only difference I can see in terms of the payment mechanism is that it isn't a one-time payment but an on-going 30%. This is frankly a very good deal for small developers. In a real-world physical mall, a small retailer has little chance of selling in volume through having a shop in the mall, since physical space is limited and the mall charges a (very high) minimum fixed fee. (possibly malls also charge a percentage of profits?? I don't know, anyone have any idea??). In the Apple/Google marketplace, a small independent developer with a great application will be noticed and will make a ton of sales, in which case paying a cut off every sale is just the cost of doing business.

The real big difference of course is that there are many many physical malls but only 2 big online app markets for tablets/smartphones, and Apple/Google can charge 30% because they're essentially monopolists. Although AFAIK in the case of Google, anyone could legitimately build their own marketplace, while in the case of Apple it really is a totally closed shop.

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Re: Are they merging with Apple?

Nice post James. I agree we need a lot more competition in the app market. In a ideal world I would like to see all allow other players to run and build on-line markets on there hardware and allow real competition and innovation drive up standards across the board.

I doubt Apple will allow that to happen, not without government interference, Android already has other markets, and Google moving away branding its store as Android only may allow other company to gain more awareness with consumers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Are they merging with Apple?

Well at least they are OPEN, LOL

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Re: Are they merging with Apple?

AppGoo

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Facepalm

Re: Are they merging with Apple?

Last time I looked into it, retail landlords in the USA commonly charged both rent and a percentage of your gross. Seemed pretty outrageous to me, and I decided not to open the store after all.

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Re: Are they merging with Apple?

> AppGoo

I prefer Goople, but yours is more descriptive.

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Devil

Money, money...

Why 30%? Just because Apple asks for the same?

I would have demanded 20%, if only to claim to be cheaper...

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Anonymous Coward

facebook....

... do the same for payments in apps on their platform, and they take a large percentage too.

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Meh

So, is this going to affect Steam?

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You've hit one of the grey areas.

Valve would probably argue to Google that it's just a storefront, like a website, and that none of the products being offered are directly for Android (AFAIK, all of Steam's offerings are for computers--mostly PC, some Mac). Since none of the commerce is Android-related, like the article's SMS scenario, Google doesn't get a cut, supposedly.

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Thumb Up

Good.

PayPal is a scourge that should be boycotted by everyone, given their practices. I simply won't do business with anyone that is offering only PayPal as a payment option.

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WTF?

Re: Good.

They don't just offer PayPal as an option. In fact, PayPal is only mentioned in the article as an example of a payment provider who will be removed from Android apps.

So, er, do you have some sort of paypal related comment Torrettes?

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Re: Good.

That wrong. Only Android apps in Google Play, there are some other android app stores out there.

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FAIL

True face revealed...

Because lets not forget the past shall we and ask ourselves /why/ these developers have chosen to utilize other means of payment...

Hmm, I dunno, could it perhaps be due to the massive (hundreds) of complaints in the Android Market forum (the 'technical help' part to be precise) from enraged developers who saw their app being purchased several times yet didn't get zip from Google as payment ?

And I'm probably seeing things here, but I can't help wonder if Google's reaction had anything to do with it as well. You know; closing down the entire forum and telling people that they should e-mail them. Perfectly reasonable no? Of course, apart from the small detail that one of the common complaints in the original (now deleted, how convenient!) thread was actually that sending e-mail to Google (which most developers seemed to have done first) had absolutely no result.

And here we are now. As you can see; "do no evil" doesn't exist within a company and is an utopia. Because in the end only 1 thing matters company-wise: income. Developers /dare/ to threaten the revenue? Then they'll pay!

You can't hold that against Google mind you, its what any company would do. HOWEVER, given the recent past (see above) and their motto "do no evil" one could have expected a little more lenience here.

As such; true face revealed, and I personally consider it a major failure.

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Re: True face revealed...

The only reason that would happen is if the app sucked and people kept refunding within 15 minutes. Deal with it - write a better app. *most* apps I download suck and get refunded - I keep maybe one in 20.

I've never seen google's payout system be more than a penny out. It's an automated system FFS.. it's not like there's someone at google manually entering the numbers and randomly missing a few.

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Trollface

Do No Evil

Wow 10 comments in before the phrase was mentioned, letting the side down there. So are we at the point yet where we add "Do No Evil" to the list of Godwins... as in "Whenever an article about Google appears..."?

Me, I'd prefer to simply put it down to a highly ambitious mission statement and compared to their corporate peers I think they have raised the standards over all, if at least it means being slightly less evil than average.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: True face revealed...

This has nothing to do with App purchases but is just for in app purchase.

Developers have always had to use Google payments for the original app purchase.

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FAIL

..and ebay

You can only sell on ebay if you accept PayPal payments, Google Checkout is not allowed.

I thought I lived in a free and open market, but clearly not...

However what's annoying is the media's current focus on Google, when Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Ebay, Yahoo and pretty much everyone else has been upto the same thing for years too.

Seems Google is an easy target right now. Shame on you.

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Facepalm

Re: ..and ebay

> "Shame on you."

The Reg is only reporting the news, not laying down judgment.

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jai
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Re: ..and ebay

you mean, what's annoying is that Google are now doing exactly what all the fandroids have been happily berating Apple for.

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Re: ..and ebay

"is that Google are now doing exactly what all the fandroids have been happily berating Apple for."

There is a big difference - with Apple, you can only shop at its store, but with Android, you can shop at Googles store, but you can use other stores, too.

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Anonymous Coward

@Fishman

You can use other stores if:

1) You know about them, most people don't

2) Your phone isn't locked to known sources

3) You tick the accept apps from "unknown sources" checkbox in settings (sounds scary to most people)

4) You sideload the alternative market and you know how to sideload

5) The app you want actually exists on the alternative market

6) you pray that the alternative market isn't shock full of malware.

Sorry that's just a lot to assume.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Fishman

Or you..

1) Buy a Kindle Fire

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Re: @Fishman

Metavisor, if you don't want to use Google payment services then you absolutely would have your app available from alternative markets. Google allows it, Apple does not, which was the point. If you want to tell your customers how to sideload, Google lets you do that. If you want to link from your website to a different Android store you can do that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ..and ebay

@Barry, nice to see you not harping on about MS for once...

The key here is that paypal/ebay, who I have no particular liking of, don't gouge their customers for 30%.

If a bank did something like this - for example if RBS charged 30% to a Merchant for a POS transaction - this there would be uproar.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: ..and ebay

It's more like RBS, hosting all the merchants products, promoting them, advertising and pushing the merchant's products availability out to the potential customers and dealing with the whole payment and authorisation process.

A bit like a shop selling goods from a supplier - for which they often charge 40~50% markup.

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"trigger billing events using HTTP requests, adding the cost to the user's bill "

Is it just me or does that sound like a can of worms just waiting for a virus to exploit it and run up an enourmous bill?

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Meh

Of course it is

But with all the operators in the chain, except Google and Apple, getting a cut, it wouldn't surprise me if they encouraged the can of worms, you know, run a break our security competition at some security event, then take a year to patch it while the money rolls in.

Been a bad Friday, so in a cynical mood.

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Re: Of course it is

Not only that, but I cannot see any sane person in their right minds choosing to be charged by the network carrier, and be subjected to curious hidden fees, dubious taxes, and other charge obfuscations effected on their monthly telephone bill. You know, as opposed to the Apple or Google invoice which contains a single line item per purchase, the price on the tag, and the final total.

Unless they force Apple and Google to use their payment methods, which I'm sure the Feds will have something to say about.

Direct phone-bill payments sounded like a good idea when mobile e-commerce depended on a wide and diverse array of individual processors, each with a different interface and requirements. But with 1-click purchases from Apple and Google readily available, why would anybody care?

-dZ.

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Hey, where did all the fandroids go?

You know... The ones that were crowing when simmilar news was reported on Apple?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hey, where did all the fandroids go?

Still here.

Only difference is the fandroids are moaning about this..as opposed to trying to justify it like the fanbois did when it was crapple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hey, where did all the fandroids go?

At least Apple laid the rules from early on, not waited until they had 400,000 apps well established in the market.

What Google did amounts to an unprecedented massive con.

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Re: Hey, where did all the fandroids go?

Apple did indeed lay the rules early on, it is not like they suddenly told Amazon to give them 30% of sales made through their Kindle app.

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Stop

@Irongut.. and the telco thing

Application signing? Extra attributes on a certificate of some kind?

Also if everyone moved off the forced inhouse payment processor (MAJOR backlash style) maybe they'd sit and say hey we'd rather we're on your app store and payments go through someone else than you all leave our app store so no-one will be our devices? Though at least android apps don't NEED an online store to go through - afaik only enterprises have a way of mass-uploading their own apps to iOS device.

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Unhappy

*sigh*

"For basic applications that's pretty simple, but things get more complicated when one thinks about an application which, for example, triggers a premium-rate SMS to vote someone out of The Big Brother house."

One prefers not to think of such applications. It makes one think of how truly stupid people can be. One would be glad to see such apps removed from the marketplace.

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Big Brother isn't the only example.

Suppose you could vote by SMS for your favourite science documentary programme.

It's a sticky question, though. "All fees received by Developers for Products distributed via the Market must be processed by the Market's Payment Processor." If the Developer is - say - the Big Brother programme maker, and receives fees when the app is used to vote by SMS, then that seems to be in breach of the terms. If the Developer is only an enthusiast for some or all of the contestants, then it isn't in breach. But the official Big Brother voting app had better be charging for votes through Google Geld, and at the same cost to users as SMS.

Then again, if premium SMS becomes an acceptable alternative, Google could just say so - but then probably everyone would do it, which isn't what they want. On the other hand, it would be reasonable to exclude fees not only to the developer, but to third parties - except that that then indeed implies that if your mobile provider gets paid as a result of you using an app, then Google wants a cut - and that isn't fair when it's just the fee for providing your Internet connection, and for usage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Big Brother isn't the only example.

"All fees received by Developers for Products distributed via the Market"

Since when is voting for someone to be shown the door a way of paying for a _Product_ which will be distributed via the "Market".

Unless you expect the contestant to then be chopped up and sent to all those that voted?

It's all geared up for options of unlocking features within apps etc.

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Facepalm

Re: Big Brother isn't the only example.

Big Brother isn't the only problem with that example.

"Suppose you could vote by SMS for your favourite [...]" still has 50% of the problem elements of the original example.

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Re: Big Brother isn't the only example.

The Big Brother show, the facility to participate in it as a voting viewer, and the app that facilitates you doing so, are the "product" - if you see it that way. And then you have these problems with Android Market terms.

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hm.

So in-app purchases now have to go through a shite payment processor that doesn't accept my bank card, and then gobbles 30%?

Yes. Requires a backlash.

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Re: hm.

Perhaps requires an investigation that invokes use of words such as "antitrust", "price-fixing", "cartel" and perhaps even "racketeering" if one tries hard enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hm.

Good luck on your quest.

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"Abuse of a dominant position"

Why is google allowed to get away with things like this?

This sort of thing *should* come fairly and squarely under Abuse of Dominant Position legislation.

However, I'm not sure that it's the supplier that should decide how customers should pay. The *customer* should always have a choice of payments and be able to use whichever is most convenient. There's nothing worse than the idiot company that decides the only acceptable payment method is obsolete, user-hostile cheques.

So, how about :

* A customer must have a choice of at least *three* reasonable and appropriate payment methods.

* One of them must be bank transfer, which must be free to the customer.

* The supplier may nominate one or more *additional* payment methods

* Where a third party (eg google or ebay) provides a significant contribution to the service, the third party may nominate one or more *additional* payment methods.

But above all else, neither the supplier or the third party should be allowed to influence which of the above the customer chooses to make payment through.

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Anonymous Coward

Friggin' theives

30% is absurd. Before Apple and Google came along I never had to pay more than 15% to sell my apps, and now suddenly the standard distributer take is double that, even as their costs drop. It makes me glad that selling apps isn't my primary income. I feel bad for the guys who have to depend on those apps to feed their families.

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Re: Friggin' theives

>> 30% is absurd.

It's a lot more generous than a bricks and mortar would be with their suppliers. You should see the charges that Tesco demands from their suppliers for the privilege of letting them use Tesco shelf space - and that's before you start talking profit margin.

I have a Panasonic BluRay player with VieraCast and thought I might look into writing an app. for it, they want £x00's/year before they will let you even use the SDK.

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Re: Friggin' theives

And before marketplace and iTunes noone knew you existed... Shrugs

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WTF?

People *pay* for mobile phone apps? Have they not noticed all the ones with the word "FREE" next to them?

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Re: FatGerman

Generally "free" apps are only cash free. You are actually bartering your privacy for said app. You might want to actually read the T&C before you load that "free" app on your mobe.

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Re: FatGerman

DroidWall - My info never leaves (unless I say it can)

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