Less than a week after getting its Kongregate Arcade pulled from Android Market by Google, Kongregate is hopeful that tweaks to the free Flash gaming portal app will satisfy Google. The gaming site said it worked to address the search engine’s concerns by making its Arcade app less like an app store, which was Google’s main sticking point.
Kongregate’s software was pulled because Google’s non-compete rules prohibit an app in Android Market from being a distribution point, or app store, for other apps. The Kongregate Arcade app pointed users back to Flash games from Kongregate’s site. But the app played the games in a special browser that allowed the games to be downloaded to the phone’s SD card for offline play. Google’s issue apparently came down to the fact Kongregate Arcade didn’t appear like a browser and the games were downloaded to the SD card, acting more like a downloaded app than a browser-based game.
The updated Kongregate app, uploaded to Android Market this afternoon, is built to look more recognizable as a browser with an address bar. The app also uses a WebKit browser cache to download the games instead of utilizing the SD card. Jim Greer, CEO of Kongregate said he talked to Google after the app was originally pulled but hasn’t been able to run the updates by Google. But he’s hopeful that it won’t be pulled again.
“To me, it was a matter of perception,” Greer said. “Although this was all browser-based it didn’t look like it was. The app is much more clearer now and we’re just using the browser cache.”
Greer said he understands Google prohibiting Android Market apps from serving as app stores. He said Google could reasonably be concerned about unsafe apps making it onto devices through Android Market, something that still can happen right now. But he said he hopes the guidelines become clearer for developers. As I wrote before, the quick removal of the Kongregate Arcade raised questions about how open Google was going to be with Android Market. While Greer seems to understand Google’s stance, I still think this signals Google might be less tolerant of competition.
This, mind you, is how most platform makers operate. But with Google still positioning Android as a champion of openness, issues like this are going to chip away at that argument. Google is still very open, but I’m wondering how much competition it will allow as rival app stores like Amazon rise up, and Google looks to expand its services such as its promised music market. Perhaps Google will show that it will remain very open with Android. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Google starts to act more in its own interest over time.
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