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The T-Mobile G1 features Google's Android OS  (Source: CNET)
Just like the Apple with its iPhone, Google is looking to keep its Android phone programs under tight reins

The news that Apple's iPhone had a kill switch built in that could destroy users apps that they had bought and paid for was at first met with incredulity.  When users discovered that the rumors were indeed true, they reacted with shock and anger.  Now Google has a similar situation brewing after it was revealed that its G1 phone which features its Android OS has a similar kill switch.

The tidbit was gleaned from the user contract terms of Google's Android Market, which it uses to sell software, similar to Apple's App Store.  The terms stated that Google can remotely kill your programs, describing, "Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement ... in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion."

While the G1 phone from T-Mobile does not go on sale till October 22, many have been lent to reporters, so detailed information is becoming available.  While some may be angry at Google's decision, others are saying Google is treating the issue in more of a sensitive manner than Apple.  Google is acknowledging the kill switch for Android at the time of release.  Apple, critics point out, only acknowledged that a kill switch existed when a developer discovered it and loudly pronounced its existence to the internet community.

Also Google says that it will try to refund users for any deleted Apps.  While this sounds common sense, iPhone users have yet to discover if they will get anything back if Apple deletes their Apps.  Google, on the other hand, says it will make "reasonable efforts to recover the purchase price of the product ... from the original developer on your behalf."  It will recover as much as it can from the developer and if it cannot offer a full refund it will redistribute whatever it collects to give a partial refund.

The kill switch also makes more sense as Android is decidedly more dangerous when it comes to applications.  It does not pre-screen its applications like Apple -- anything can be sold on its market.  This raises the possibility of malicious applications.  Google has given no indication that it will delete or prevent the release of applications that overlap its products, something Apple has actively done.

Google is also kind enough to provide users with a 24-hour satisfaction guarantee, where unsatisfied users can return their application in this timeframe for a full refund.  Android Market users also get access to an unlimited number of downloads for their purchased programs, helpful in the case of phone loss or failure.

Injecting a bit of humor, Google also added that "no robots were harmed in the making of this product" and that further, "None of the products are intended for use in the operation of nuclear facilities, life support systems, emergency communications, aircraft navigation or communication systems, air traffic control systems or any other such activities in which case the failure of the products could lead to death, personal injury, or severe physical or environmental damage."

The new user terms also include friend "shout-outs" from Google, in which it plugs the various developers, groups, and companies that were instrumental in launching the OS. 


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Closed computing is inevitable.
By reader1 on 10/16/2008 10:50:06 AM , Rating: 2
This is one more step towards closing all computing devices.

It's only a matter of time before Google realizes how stupid it is to delete apps after the damage has been done. Screening software beforehand is better.

The iPhone will outsell Android phones primarily because it's a closed system. Average people want filtered software, they want a gatekeeper.

There are no significant disadvantages to having multiple closed systems competing with each other.




By silentdrowning on 10/16/2008 1:16:51 PM , Rating: 2
Ah. .. closed apps can be hacked or even pass through Apple's careful screening process and then you're back to the same liability question.

Although I agree that Apple is trying to what Microsoft did back in its early days, create a propietry empire, I don't think the business model will succeed. I predict Android based phones will gain a huge market share into potential Apple customers and possible pass it up.


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