Ever since Blackberry announced the launch of its instant messaging service-BBM on other mobile operating systems, there has been quite an interest in the users especially previous Blackberry users to try the BBM app on their android phones. To capitalize on the potential user interest, Samsung had infact gone out to claim exclusive 3 month BBM access which Blackberry denied.
Fast forward a few days and BBM launched on the Google Play store and then started the downloads of the app. It is not secret that Play store already had a lot of fake BBM apps available but there were a few versions of the BBM app with the developer name “BBM Inc.” which made users trust the app and download it. Users were facing issues and rumours of the app being fake started doing the rounds. Eventually, BBM official account tweeted out that the version available on the app store was a leaked build which caused the app to crash.
— BBM (@BBM) September 22, 2013
Call it shoddy execution from BBM but this whole fiasco puts into question how the Google Play Store operates.
Google Play Store- Is It Too much Openness
One of the strongest argument made in the debate of iOS v/s Android is the “openness” of the android ecosystem. Despite being a loyal iPhone user, I appreciate the advantages of an open system such as Android and there are a whole lot of users who prefer the android ecosystem instead of the closed wall garden that iOS is.
One of the significant components of the Android “openness” is the relatively free hand developers get while making apps for android and publishing them to the Google Play Store. Chris Pirillo captured the state of affairs with Google Play Store best with the statement,
The Android Marketplace is kind of like the Wild West. Anyone can put anything in there – and they do.
Again, with developers having virtually all the freedom to publish apps into Google Play Store makes way for some interesting and useful apps, it also exposes the Google Play Store to fake or low quality apps.
The BBM fiasco just made the lack of policing on Google Play store much more prominent. While the apparent fake BBM app did not cause too much damage, imagine the potential threats a fake app like this could cause. The fact that the developer name was infact “BBM Inc.” makes the app trustworthy in the eyes of users but the app could end up injecting a malware or even accessing your phone data for all that matters.
Google Play Store- Could It Do With Some Policing?
Open source aficionados would argue that there are some sacrifices to be made when it comes to open systems but with the war between iOS and Android, one wonders if the lack of policing in the Google App Store could eventually threaten the adoption of Android. The rationale being that among other things, the quality & the quantity of apps in the app store can often be a huge determinant in the choice of a mobile OS a.k.a the phone. If android users are exposed to fake apps more often, they might be alienated from buying and recommending Android phones.
So, the question becomes if Android system could do with some policing especially when it comes to stricter guidelines and reviews with respect to publishing apps in the Google Play store. Infact, Google can take the community/moderator approach to maintaining quality adopted by leading open source platforms such as Github etc.
Time will tell if the Google Play Store will improve its quality guidelines without compromising on the “openness” of the system but I seriously think there is a serious need to do so early. What are your thoughts? Can Android do with some policing in its app store?