The new Android Market Developer agreement…

So I logged in to my Android Market publisher account, because it’s been a while, and I’m thinking of updating some apps, and trying again to see if I can reproduce some of the fairly major (I admit it) bugs that keep getting reported that I just can’t track down…and lo and behold, there’s a new developer agreement. Normally, like most of the world’s population, I just scroll down and click ‘accept’ these agreements. For some reason this time, I decided to read it first.

Following are a list of concerns that struck me on reviewing this thing…

***SPOILER – I still accepted it – what choice do I really have?****

***DISCLAIMER – I am a pure hobbyist. Yes my personal apps are not polished, and I have nowhere near the appropriate level of QA resources to ship bug-free. The products work on my hardware, and any bugs I have been able to reproduce DO get fixed in my limited time.

3.2 Developer is responsible for determining if a Product is taxable and the applicable tax rate for the Payment Processor to collect for each taxing jurisdiction where Products are sold. Developer is responsible for remitting taxes to the appropriate taxing authority.

  • Did I, as a hobbyist selling apps through a required Google-authorized payment processor, just have said payment processor abdicate all responsibility of tax collection and remittance? Isn’t that much more suited to what a payment processor DOES? And now any taxes (even if there aren’t any NOW) that come up in the future, all come directly out of MY share.

3.5 Except in cases when multiple disputes are initiated by a user with abnormal dispute history, billing disputes received by Payment Processor for Products sold for less than $10 may be automatically charged back to the Developer, in addition to any handling fees charged by the Payment Processor. Chargeback requests for Products $10 or more will be handled in accordance with the Payment Processor’s standard policy. 

  • In my opinion, chargebacks are the WORST part of this whole business for a hobbyist developer. This policy has bounced back and forth a few times at Google, but now it seems that they are landing directly in the camp of “Developer pays all chargeback fees”. In case you’re not familiar, a chargeback is when someone uses a credit card to buy a $.99 app, then decides to dispute the charges on the credit card. So I don’t get paid my $.99, and guess what, I also get dinged a $10 ‘chargeback fee’ by Google Checkout – and I just personally lost $10 on a $.99 sale.
  • This ALONE is very close to enough for me to immediately take any non-free apps off the android market, just because some competing schmuck could decide to have all his buddies buy my app, give it a crappy rating, and then do chargebacks and cost me money directly. Unlikely? Sure. But absolutely possible.
  • How about this scenario? I can only test on the ONE Android device I own. According to the bug reports, there are people that the app crashes for, but I CANNOT PERSONALLY reproduce the issue, and I have no idea what hardware they are running. I have limited time and resources for this hobby, and if it crashes when you install it, PLEASE just get the 15-minute refund. But, suppose instead the user gets frustrated (totally understandable), and instead of just trying to get a refund, disputes the credit card charge. BAM.
  • The $10 price point is just Google thumbing their nose at Android developers. How many Android apps have you bought that have a price > $10? The OLD policy was that if the CHARGEBACK total amount was < $10, Google would NOT pass it back to the developer. Now, it says the developer gets it AUTOMATICALLY, unless the SALE price is > $10.
  • I’m sure somebody is probably thinking ‘GREAT, this will get all those useless apps off the Marketplace’ but to me it’s pretty shoddy behavior. If you want to curate the marketplace, then do it.

4.9 Your Products may be subject to user ratings to which you may not agree. You may contact Google if you have any questions or concerns regarding such ratings.

  • Translation: If someone decides to post a completely idiotic review (happens ALL the time) there is NOTHING you can do about it. If it’s egregious enough, and you happen to make us a lot of money, we might pursue it, but if you are making that much money, your legit-to-idiot rating ratio is probably not that bad so you’re not as concerned as an indie who is throwing out some proof-of-concept utility apps and getting trashed by folks who want an entire mini-Microsoft Office suite for free.
  • No clear, defined policy for trash reviews is a big failure here IMHO.

At this point I kind of just sighed and scrolled down the rest of the text.

“Accept”. Click.

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