In a time-honored free and open-source tradition, a developer of an app whose work and revenues are being undermined by Google is turning to the community for assistance.
Mathieu Mea, the author of the free and open-source app MonTransit, urged those reading his post to help spread the word about the problem he is currently experiencing as an Android developer.
Mea starts his post by writing, “It's my turn” – a chilling reference to what can now be described as a trend of Google suspending or terminating Google Play Publisher accounts of developers, without giving them a chance to correct the problem, and more disturbingly, without even explaining what the problem might be.
What Mea received from the tech giant instead was a series of messages arriving in quick succession, informing him that his app had violated rules on “deceptive behavior”, after which his account was terminated. Shortly thereafter, his appeal was rejected.
The final message from “Google Play team” reads:
“I'm not able to provide any more information or a better answer to your question. In our previous email, I made sure to include all the information available to me.”
In other words, no information.
MonTransit is one of Mea's four Android apps published on Google Play. The project started ten years ago provides a schedule for public transport in Montreal. At the time Google suspended it on Friday, the app ranked sixth in the free Maps & Navigation category for Canada, installed on more than 120,000 active devices.
Mea estimates that he has so far put over 5,000 work hours into developing the app, and speculates that Google may have suspended it in error. This, given that he was unable to identify anything resembling an attempt to “deceive users or enable dishonest behavior” – which was Google's extremely vague way of explaining its actions.
The developer is still hopeful Google could reverse the decision to banish him and his apps from Google Play – hence the appeal to his readers and users to help raise the profile of the issue, in the hope this might elicit a useful response from the giant.
In case that fails, Mea says he will have to find a new home to distribute updates to his Android software packages – to those users who bother looking for them.