I’m reading this post-mortem from former Pingjam founder Elnor Rozenrot:
To this date, I don’t know what made Google suddenly not like us. I don’t know whether we got kicked out because 24 hours before banning our apps Google launched an almost identical feature in Android 4.4 or if it’s something else. The messages we did receive stated conflicting reasons. Beyond the obvious damage, the lack of communication caused us to assume the worst and that whatever we do in the space will be killed by Google.
Obviously, we may not be getting the entire story here. But Google, as a company, is notorious for issuing these kinds of vague edicts to their partners across a multitude of platforms. It’s gone on for years. I still remember back in 2007 when I was running a small content site business getting the e-mail that my Adsense account, the core source of my revenue, was going to be terminated in 24 hours unless I changed the formatting of my ads to comply with a TOS update that they had issued hours before. No phone communication. E-mail was routed to a support team overseas where the best they could give me on timing was 3 business days.
Same goes on in organic search. As an SEO practitioner, I’ve seen it with clients and other companies, big and small. Yes, you can use their tools to clean up link profiles, request re-inclusion in search etc. But once a decision has been made, there’s very little recourse or even getting a rationale explanation unless you’re a big brand or a Sequoia-backed startup with $100 million in funding in the bank.
Now that Google’s ecosystem has spread to mobile, it seems the same types of things are going on. No dialogue with partners that have made them money, no dialogue with the industry, just proclamations issued from on high. And this didn’t impact just PingJam but a litany of developers that were using the service.
From one of several message board threads on the topic:
Unfortunately this is becoming more and more just part of being an android developer. We are an Australian Development house, that lost over 30 casion related games over the weeknd. The worst part is, we stopped all production to update our entire network of 500 apps to meet all google policies, mainly removing airpush from all our apps. Our casino games has tested Pingjam only for 1 month and bout 3 months ago, we removed all sdk and all traces of pingjam. But only apps that had pingjam on them have been removed. Been in contact with google head office in Sydney getting passed around from one manager to another, each one says send an email…..an email! Over the last couple of years we have spent over $100,000 in inapp paid fees to google alone. And there is just no one to talk to.
Founders, developers, analysts, writers and everyone else in the mobile ecosystem can badger Google to death on this subject. But it doesn’t seem likely that they’re going to change their ways. If it continues, would more developers be drawn to alternative Android stores? More importantly, could they convince customers to use them, despite concerns over malware?
Either way, his advice to fellow founders is sound and mimics Fred Wilson’s “be your own bitch” narrative:
To stress the point, if your startup has one point of failure that is controlled by one entity – do what you can to not be totally dependent on that single entity. Develop for other platforms, decouple from the ecosystem. Do whatever it takes to get out from under their thumb.