Google yesterday updated their Google Play Distribution Agreement, a document which sets out the rules that developers must abide by in order to play in Google’s Playground as it were. The updated agreement introduces a couple of new clauses aimed at improving developer response, but also appears to be making moves to encourage alternate providers of apps to move them into Google Play.
In a move that appears to be a direct shot at Amazon, and their method of release for their Amazon Prime Instant Video app. Amazon, after a long wait, finally released their Amazon Prime Instant Video app for Android last week, with Amazon releasing the app on their own App store.
While Amazon is free to release the app there (or wherever it likes), the issue lies in the method by which Amazon is directing customers to the app. Customers wanting to get access to Amazon Prime Instant Video from within post the Amazon app (which is distributed via Google Play) are directed to the Amazon App Store to download the application. This directly contravenes the amended Google Play Distribution Agreement. The clauses which Google has now updated read :
You may not use the Store to distribute or make available any Product which has a purpose that facilitates the distribution of software applications and games for use on Android devices outside of the Store.
In simple terms, your app can’t direct people to applications or games that are supplied other than through the Play Store. Amazon’s app does precisely that. This is likely to see some action from Amazon on this front, if they intend to have their app remain in Google Play.
Google has also taken steps to improve responsiveness from developers, adding a hard three working day window in which developers must respond to customer support inquiries or face sanctions including ‘low Product ratings, less prominent product exposure, low sales, billing disputes, or removal from the Store’.
For paid Products or in-app transactions, you must respond to customer support inquiries within three (3) working days, and within 24 hours to any support or Product concerns stated to be urgent by Google. Failure to provide adequate information or support for your Products may result in low Product ratings, less prominent product exposure, low sales, billing disputes, or removal from the Store.
This appears to be an extension of the new arrangements whereby developers are being required to provide more information about themselves and their products. Earlier this week, Developers were notified that they would be required to provide a physical address, as well as a list of all In-App Purchase details on their product page in Google Play. These changes combined appear to be forcing developers to take more responsibility for their products.
Having developers take more responsibility for their products, further absolving Google of having to intercede is a clever move. A move which will hopefully see less ‘wild west’ style fly-by-night developers using Google Play to take the money and run.
We’ve approached Amazon through their Australian branch for comment on the new distribution terms and whether they will be bringing their Amazon Instant Prime app to Google Play, or whether they will simply amend it. Once we have a response, we’ll let you know!