Changes Coming To The Android Market

Google is making changes to their developer agreement and policies associated with the Android Market that may have an impact on Android users. The AndroidGuys web site provides some details on the developer agreement changes, the key change being to the refund policy. Purchases of products that provide previews before you buy them, like ringtones, will not be refunded, but the refund length will increase for all other apps. Currently you can obtain a refund for purchased app within 24 hours of the purchase and after the change that time increases to 48 hours.

Another interesting change is that while today there are application ratings, Google is creating a developer rating that is at Google’s discretion. A creation of developer ranking suggests to me that Google is placing more controls on the Android Market than currently exists, and perhaps they will not accept apps from developers that have a low ranking.

Another change is that Google is broadening the current implementation of carrier app billing. Today, if you own an Android phone from T-Mobile you can have the cost of apps put on your T-Mobile phone bill rather than providing a credit card and using Google check-out. It appears as though those who have Android phones with Sprint and Verizon may have the ability to pay for apps via their cell phone bill in the near future.

Finally, Google is implementing a licensing service for developers that it says is to combat piracy of purchased apps. Google will be hosting a licensing server and paid apps running on Android 1.5 or higher can query the license server to determine the license status. It will return information about whether the account, presumably associated with the Google ID that you associate with the phone, is authorized to use the app.

While this last change will appeal to developers who don’t want users to get free versions of their apps from bit torrent sites, it sounds a lot like digital rights management, which can be very user un-friendly. Microsoft had a similar implementation for their digital rights management with Microsoft Reader, which was an eBook format, and when Microsoft decided to get out of the eBook business people who had bought the books were no longer able to open them because the server that verified a users right to use the book was no longer online. In Google’s case I will be interested to see what happens if the phone does not have an Internet connection, will that mean you cannot run the app?