The Silly End Result Of DRM: Google Android Developers Barred From Running Paid Apps

from the over-protecting dept

It's really amazing how the use of DRM makes companies do stupid things. They get so focused on "protecting" they don't realize how all that protection hurts them. It happens over and over again. The latest such example is that developers for Google's Android mobile OS are discovering they can't access paid apps in the Android Market. Why? Because Google is afraid that developers, with greater levels of access, will be able to "break" the DRM and create unauthorized copies. Of course, people will figure out how to break the DRM and make unauthorized copies anyway. So all Google has really done is (a) piss off a lot of developers (b) shrink the market for paid apps (c) make it that much more difficult for developers to get, create and test such paid apps. In all this focus on protecting, Google seems to have missed out on the fact that it's more important to be creating and building than protecting.


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  1.  
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    Brad, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 2:35pm

    Let's clarify...

    This isn't Google blocking developers, it's Google specifically blocking people who purchased the G1-developer edition, unlocked handset. This is probably a caveat that was in the original T-mobile / Google agreement - that the unlocked phones wouldn't be "fully functional".

    Think about it - if Apple sold unlocked iPhones for "developers" (cheaper than the ATT iPhone) but let you do everything that the original did, you think ATT would be happy?

    The G1-Dev is supposed to be a piece of developer hardware, not a fully functional tool. There's all kinds of stuff you can do on it (like access the root directly) that you can't do on the shipped version.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Let's clarify...

    I hate to disagree with Brad, but he is wrong on all points. The key word is "probably" in the second sentence. Everything in what he is saying is speculation, and it is wrong. The iPhone analogy is completely flawed in this situation. iPhone is completely proprietary and exclusive deals were part of its original design. Android, on the other hand, is an open design intended to be run on many vendor platforms. A long-term exclusivity agreement would be to the detriment of both Google and even T-Mobile itself; the value of its G1 phones depends on growth and development of the platform.

    I am an Android developer who owns a G1-developer phone. These are fully functional units. We paid full price for them (actually we paid $25 extra because we had to pay a joining fee). There is a simulator that obviously is not a functional unit. The Developer phones were put out in part because developers NEED a fully functional unit if they are going to do any serious testing.

    We also had a problem with the upgrade. This is because Google didn't put out a properly signed copy for developers. The developers themselves fixed the problem, sort of.

    I am more inclined to think this is growing pains from a new business unit starting up. A lot of decisions seem to be getting made without being thoroughly thought through. I would not be surprised to see Google reverse this decision sometime soon. It is one of those things that probably sounded reasonable when they had a meeting on it, but the decision just does not hold up to scrutiny on so many levels.

     

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  3.  
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    Jeff (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Let's clarify...

    Not entirely.

    It is not that it is unlocked. It is that the dev-G1 allows access to the protected storage that paid apps are stored in, thus being able to copy them and distribute them.

    Also, the Android Marketplace allows for uninstalls/refunds within 24 hours. So, with a dev-G1, one could conceivably purchase, copy, uninstall to get the refund and then restore the program.

    There is no restrictions on the use of the G1 in an unlocked state. The Marketplace is run by Google, not Tmobile. Tmobile will supply the unlock codes if you have had the G1 for more than 6 months.

    Getting it 100% functional on a different network is another story entirely. I have an unlocked G1 (not a dev phone) and have it on AT7T. All is working excep 3G and MMS. AT&T uses a non-standard 3G frequency. As to the MMS, not sure why that is not working.

     

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  4.  
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    Matt, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Let's clarify...

    This is not an excuse. Just as engineering samples of a product are the completed product, developer editions of products are and should be too. There are legitimate uses for this, and if they are disabled, then there's no use for a developer product.

     

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  5.  
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    urs2ne, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: Let's clarify...

    I have a G1 with JFv1.43 and I receive MMS on at&t. I would go back and double check your APN settings, I would be money something is incorrect and easily correctable. :)

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    Do you think they would facilitate a situation where developers can rape their paid store and steal every single app in there without paying a penny? You are fool, if you do.

     

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  7.  
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    Jeff (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Let's clarify...

    Can you tell me what your APN settings are for that then as I have gone round and round trying to get it set.

     

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  8.  
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    Pope Ratzo, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    "Growing pains"?

    You think Google is experiencing "growing pains" NOW?

    Please. This is a screwup that could have been predicted by anyone who realizes that DRM just means "defective by design".

     

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  9.  
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    Buzz, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 4:49pm

    LOL

    I have yet to hear a glorious success story where DRM kept out enterprising pirates. DRM has only ever kept out paying customers.

    Smooth move, Google.

     

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  10.  
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    fat Tony, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Let's clarify...

    In addition Anon #2 there is actually not really much to stop the intrepid G1 owner from gaining root access.
    I can tell you this from experience, I used root access to enable multi-touch on my G1.
    Feel free to google it (sic)

     

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  11.  
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    Brad Hubbard, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 5:30pm

    Some excellent point made by someone who hates to disagree with me (why would you? I was wrong!)

    My point was that they were limiting the hardware side - developers who own standard G1s do not have any such difficulties. So they're not limiting Developers, they're limiting Developer Handsets.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 5:47pm

    Most of the Rooted phones are not held by developers

    Developer phones are root'd, and prior to the update that is going on now developers and regular T-Mobile customers both could use the same techniques to get root access.

    I know threee other developers, and none of us have gotten root access. Basically, we don't need it to do what we do, and we prefer to have phones that are as close to normal retail phones as possible. There are a lot more retail phones out there than developer phones, so it is safe to assume that most of the root'd phones are in the hands of non developers. That makes it all the more stupid that Google has chosen to lock out the developers.

    I would have thought that Google would have learned from Apple that making your development community angry is a really bad idea. Apparently Google is going to have to learn that lesson for themselves. It's too bad.

     

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  13.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 5:53pm

    Sooooo...

    The whole reason to get an Android is that it's not QUITE as locked down as an iPhone?


    Good luck to marketing with that one.

     

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  14.  
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    Jeff (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Sooooo...

    If you are not on the Dev-G1, then it is a moot point.

     

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  15.  
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    Jeff (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Re: Let's clarify...

    That is my next foray. :)

     

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  16.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:43pm

    Sob

    I think I'm getting ashamed to say that Android is Linux-based...

     

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  17.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:48pm

    Need a New Motto

    Their old “Don’t Be Evil” motto has become meaningless. I challenge any self-respecting company to live up to this new motto: “Don’t Be Bloody Stupid!”.

     

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  18.  
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    Jeff (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Sob

    Nothing to be ashamed about. I am a Linux advocate. Sure it is a form of DRM, but it is not like they are saying, "No Apps" or trying to claim copyright infringement for a jailbreak phone.

    No reason to have a Dev-G1 unless you are a dev. Then, ask yourself, is it necessary to have those paid apps on the handset?

    As it is, a lot of the apps have free alternatives.

     

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  19.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 2:02am

    Re: Sob

    Jeff rationalized:

    No reason to have a Dev-G1 unless you are a dev. Then, ask yourself, is it necessary to have those paid apps on the handset?

    Sounds like exactly the same sort of thing you hear from the Apple apologists.

     

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  20.  
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    Jeff (profile), Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:02pm

    Re: Re: Sob

    Not entirely:

    Apple does not offer an unlocked iPhone for developers. As such, the only way to do that level of development on another network is to jailbreak it.

    As such, comparing Google to Apple is like comparing apples to oranges.

    If they were to do this exclusion to unlocked, non-Dev-G1 phones, then it would be the same.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    lida, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    lida

    thanks blog admin nice site

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    dj, Jun 26th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    dj

    Thank you so much for content, dj you would track;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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