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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Companies: google

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Comments on “The Silly End Result Of DRM: Google Android Developers Barred From Running Paid Apps”

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Brad says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Jeff (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Jeff (profile) says:

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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