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Google Pulls Paid Apps From Taiwanese Android Market 186

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fifteen-minutes-should-be-enough dept.
tlhIngan writes "Taiwan recently mandated that online download sites (like Apple's App Store and Google's Marketplace) must comply with a law stating consumers have 7 days to return goods bought sight-unseen. While Apple has complied, Google has refused to comply. Taiwan fined the search giant NT$1M (approx. US$34,600). In retaliation, Google pulled the paid apps section of the Market for users in Taiwan."
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Google Pulls Paid Apps From Taiwanese Android Market

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  • Caveat Emptor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not really surprised. After all, there's no way most games in the Market take over a week to beat, so this would essentially be giving free video games to Taiwan. That said, I also support customer rights however they manifest. This isn't going to be an easy fix.

    • The alternative is that Google should start requiring demos...

      Using the Android Marketplace is an effort in frustration and regret.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I have no problems using it. If you do, you could try the amazon market. Not like you are tied to only one market.

        • It's not the marketplace, it's the lack of policy on demo/trial downloads.

          And when there is a demo/trial it's almost always another app all together so I have to go hunting for it under "Demo" or "trial" or "lite" or "light" or...

          I wanted to try ADWLauncher EX this weekend but couldn't find a demo so that's a potential lost sale. I'm not going to spend $10 to see how well it works in practice.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Why could you not try the regular ADW?
            Install CM7 that comes with it.

            I have 7.1RC1 on my Droid 1.

    • After all, there's no way most games in the Market take over a week to beat, so this would essentially be giving free video games to Taiwan.

      Has this ever happened before, or is it just assumed that it will happen?

  • FTFA:

    The brouhaha started when local users complained that an iPhone app called Super Cell Phone Tracker, which they bought online from the Apple's App Store for US$1.99, did not work at all and there was no way they could ask for a refund. According to the App Store description, the tracker program is a joke and intended only for fun. However, not all buyers read the description before downloading the software.

    If you take a look at poorly rated similar prank apps, the reviews are trife with "this doesn't

    • by errandum (2014454)

      Still think that should be considered a scamm. It tries really hard to look legit on everything but the description...

      • Do you realize how stupid that statement is?
    • by lymond01 (314120)

      If Apple is going to spend all this time reviewing apps and rejecting them for all kinds of reasons, you'd think they might rename the ones that are going to cause people problems rather than taking the unprofessional passive/aggressive approach: "Well, you should have read the description! Just because it says it's a Super Cell Phone Tracker doesn't mean it IS one!"

    • If you take a look at poorly rated similar prank apps, the reviews are trife with "this doesn't work, I got ripped off" even though the app description clearly states it's a prank, oftentimes in the first sentence.

      It's all well and good when the app description clearly says so. In some cases, though, it doesn't say anything of the kind, but the app still doesn't work.

      On Android this is actually much worse, since there's no premoderation for the app store, so all kind of crap gets in. It's not unusual to purchase an app that will immediately force close upon running because the author only wrote and tested it to run on his phone, and did not bother to write portable code.

  • I suppose that is one way to comply with the law.
  • That'll show em.

    • Re:Retaliation? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:40PM (#36601696)

      "Retaliation" and "pulls" are flamebait words made up by the submitter. Google's statement used the word suspended, meaning the action is likely temporary until further consideration.

  • It's a good law... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tasha26 (1613349) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:30PM (#36601516) Homepage
    Why are these folks always ahead of us... faster broadband, contactless payment... If they void software patents, I'm emigrating.
  • The word is "off", not "of". But other then that I have to wonder how much of this is a technical issue. As far as I can tell the Android market has no real system in place for insuring that an app gets removed prior to a refund being issued. Which would more or less make paid apps "free" if they where forced to allow refunds. Bit of a PITA and something I hope Google addresses soon.
    • by megla (859600)

      The word is "off", not "of".

      If you're going to be a grammar pedant at least try to be a correct grammar pedant.

      Google pulled the paid apps section of the Market for users in Taiwan.

      "Of the market" as in "belonging to/part of the Market". This is perfectly valid and much better English than using "off" in the way you wanted to see.

    • by jittles (1613415)
      Actually you already have 24 hours for a refund on the Android market and it does strip it from the device if you return it. However, you can make and keep a copy of it if you're rooted.
      • by dimeglio (456244)

        Are you implying those who root their Android do it to pirate software?

        • by jittles (1613415)
          Wow way to jump to conclusions. Absolutely not. I have my android device rooted and I have no interest in pirating software for it. I am just saying that once you are rooted, that is within the realm of possibility.
    • The word is "off", not "of".

      No. There are two parts of the Android market. There is the "paid" part and the "free" part. They are distinct parts and thus Google has removed the "paid" apps part of the market.

  • by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:33PM (#36601568) Homepage

    I wonder if they will pull out of the UK too? The UK has distance selling regulations [oft.gov.uk] that mandate a seven day "cooling off period" for internet sales.

    Indeed, it looks like these regulations should be EU wide and I don't see any exemption for software sales.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Unfortunately not
      http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2000/2334/regulation/13/made [legislation.gov.uk]

      Exceptions to the right to cancel
      13.—(1) Unless the parties have agreed otherwise, the consumer will not have the right to cancel the contract by giving notice of cancellation pursuant to regulation 10 in respect of contracts—

      (d)for the supply of audio or video recordings or computer software if they are unsealed by the consumer;

      • If you didn't download; there no "seal" was broken. At least, it's the next best thing.

        • by Albanach (527650)

          Indeed - the only reason for that was because the consumer could copy then return. That, however, is not a concern here as the App Store should be able to deactivate the software on the client.

          • BS. Buy, download, copy the .apk, return. It's totally possible, and people are lame enough to do that.

    • by kailoran (887304)
      This is specifically addressed in the PDF at the site you link to, at 3.39:

      Do downloads of electronic books or music from a website, or the purchase of ring tones and screen savers for mobile phones fall within the cancellation exceptions referred to above?

      3.39 We consider that these examples are likely to constitute services, rather than goods as the consumer does not receive physical goods. The right to cancel are therefore those that apply to services.

      Earlier they state that services that start before the end of the cancellation period are exempt in general, so it does in fact seem that there is an exemption for download-only software sales.

    • by Teun (17872)
      This is the UK implementation of a EU directive.

      Usually countries make smaller or larger adjustments to fit the local/national situation.

      Yes there are exemptions for things like CD's you could copy and continue to use the copy even when the original has been 'returned'.

  • by gubers33 (1302099) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:37PM (#36601634)
    Was that you can return you Apple app, but Steve Jobs gets your soul.
  • by waddgodd (34934) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @02:45PM (#36601792) Homepage Journal

    How do you make the pay-for-crap-software market go away? Make the guys running it go away. I'm pretty sure that the Taiwanese aren't going to miss a $5 frontend to "killall" or about a dozen pay frontends to "ntpdate"

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Theres a front end for ntpdate on android? Why the fuck doesn't it use the time from the cell network, which is kind of required to be accurate if you want the phone to actually ... you know, make calls.

      • by Zebedeu (739988)

        Because some shitty networks (i.e. my admittedly budget provider) don't supply that service.

  • 15 minutes is usually not enough to fully evaluate application (unless it's complete junk). People hesitate to buy with such policy, which hurts developers and forces them to maintain separate evaluation versions. On the other hand 1 day or 7 days refund will be abused by very few dishonest customers only. Majority of those who don't want to pay for the app, would just pirate the app in the first place.

    So I don't understand why Google is doing it. Is it really slowly becoming another evil empire? Or it j

    • by Sancho (17056) *

      And yet Apple's App Store rakes in the money without any sort of return policy (that I can find) to begin with.

      • by dmesg0 (1342071)
        Well, we all know what Apple is. The reason many chose Android is not to be (mis)treated by two companies run by Steves.
        • by dimeglio (456244)

          I bought an iPhone from one of the Steves because it was the better product for me. When my contract ends, it might be something else but I feel Apple will want to keep my business.

      • by compro01 (777531)

        Apple complies with the 7-day requirement in Taiwan, but doesn't allow refunds elsewhere in the world.

        link [pocketgamer.biz]

        • by Sancho (17056) *

          Unless Taiwan is a huge market for apps, this is largely irrelevant. The OP thinks that 15 minutes is too short, yet Apple has generated over $2 billion in app store sales.

          http://www.talkandroid.com/39922-mobile-app-store-sales-will-grow-77-7-this-year/ [talkandroid.com]

          And Apple's official policy seems to be no returns in markets where consumer laws don't require it. Some people have said that Apple will accept returns--I can't verify this.

        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          They don't have an automatic system, but they do allow refunds through manual support tickets addressed by a human being.

          They are a rare thing mainly because apps that get too many request tend to get fraudulent and taken out of the App Store quickly.

      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        And yet, Apple's App Store complied with the 7 day policy.

        BTW, Apple does refunds, but they are a manual thing with support tickets and human intervention. They don't have an automated system in place.

  • If you lose a court case because you are out of compliance, the first reasonable action may be to pull the product until you can make the change, test the change, and put the site back up.

    Or, they found another problem, namely, that they can't sell US apps because of existing contractual obligations to US app owners. So, in Taiwan, it may not be as simple as extending the return period to 7 days. In fact, they may need to create a totally walled off Taiwan store, which gives app owners the option of selling there, thereby submitting to a 7 day return.

    Obviously, some games will not do this for one big reason... some games can be completed in under 7 days, and therefore it makes no sense to sell there.

  • Google can clearly afford USD 34,000. Not even half a year of salary and benefits for one developer. So they get fined. Cost of doing business. Ignore it can carry on.

    On the other hand, why would they not want to comply with what on the face of it is a good, pro-consumer law? And what happened to the corporate motto, "do not be evil"?

    Disabling the paid segment of the market for Taiwan just seems so --- what's the word? ah, yes --- petulant, especially since there are alternate reactions that make more

  • The world would have been different place if software had any kind of warranty or guarantee. Software world is privledged in how little liability it faces compared to any other industry. We'd have less complex, feature-heavy software, and it would take much longer to get to market. However it has some benefits it would be more robust, reliable and simple. It would encourage better design for security and stability before all sorts of bleeding edge features.

    Frankly software developers could do with a bit
  • I hope this will lead to more and more releases of applications outside Google market. I don't want a Google account but even some Open Source apps I want to run (Groundhog usenet reader) are only available through the market.
  • As a customer, I think a 7 day return window is very reasonable; I also know that I'm not likely to abuse it.

    As a developer, a 7 day return window seems pretty excessive. I've got a simple puzzle game that has deeper strategy to it for players who enjoy it, but it's also possible that someone might play it for a couple of hours and not have it hook them. I'm ok with that. However, at only a dollar or two, I think that they probably got their money's worth, even if they do only choose to play it for a cou

  • So I should be about to buy ms-windows, or ms-office. Then return them, for a full refund a few days later.

    How about CDs or DVDs?

    Anybody else see a problem with this picture?

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