Tag Archives: Google

Update on Android Market Rejection

I wrote previously about the an Android application that had been rejected from the Android Market for inexplicable reasons. The Android Market responded to the developer to tell him that:

Your app was suspended because it seems to be a demo of what one can do with a blog. You may re-upload your app to the “Demo” section of the market as opposed to the “Reference” section.

This is good news. It is unfortunate that the first message stated that the application had been rejected because it didn’t conform to the Android Market policies instead of the real reason for the rejection notice. However, it is nice to have it straightened out and to know that Google appears to be honoring its commitment to an open market.

Android: the open alternative to iPhone? Maybe not.

Those developers looking to Android as an open alternative to Apple’s unclear App Store rules might be alarmed to hear about an Android developer with a similar tale of rejection woe.

Nathan Freitas built a simple Android application using the phonegap framework. The application provides a version of his blog as an application that people could download for free. He wrote about the application features, provided some screenshots, and described his motivation on his blog:

“To be honest, I don’t really want or expect random people to download my app… I just want it there so I can demonstrate the possibilities of linking together a few cool pieces of tech to build a rich mobile application….”

His application was in the Android Market for a time, but has now been suspended. Google’s form letter says that it has been “removed from Android Market due to a violation of the Developer Content Policy”

Nathan links to the relevant policy sections and as far I can see, his application doesn’t appear to violate any of them. He writes:

Now, I’ll admit my app is a bit pointless, some may mistake it as shameless self-promotion, but in truth, it was meant as a proof of concept for gluing together the awesome Phonegap SDK (a mobile web appstack enabler) with WordPress and a mobile-friendly template.

Amazing how much that sounds like the developer of the fart application for the iPhone that was originally rejected for not having enough utility. He said he knew it was a juvenile application, but that it was well done and meant to be fun.

It will be interesting to see if there is any appeals process for suspension from the Android Market. My experience with Google’s support has been atrocious even when I’m playing money Google money for an AdWords campaign. I can’t imagine what recourse you would have for a free application by a small developer.

The silver-lining for Android developers is that unlike the iPhone, you can still distribute your application outside of the Android Market. There’s something to be said for that. But you have to wonder how well an application will do outside the Android Market.

In the same way that Apple’s rejection of the fart application for its “utility” gave iPhone developers pause, the Android Market rejecting this blog application for unclear reasons should give Android developers something to think about.

Need Google Adwords Assistance

A few months ago I moved our beach house web site from a server in my house running Zope to WordPress at Media Temple. In the process, I screwed up my Adwords account.

In particular, I forgot that I had a special landing page that tracked the referring url and then redirected to the home page. After the move, the url for that landing page was returning a page not found error.

Now my ads won’t run no matter what I do. I’ve pointed the ads at the home page, the about page, the features page, etc. I’ve tried domain aliases. No matter what I do, Google Adwords never seems to budge from its opinion that the landing page is of poor quality and not relevant.

I don’t believe my changes to the landing page are having any effect. I’ve been battling this for a couple of weeks now. I’ve sought from the Adwords help forum and from Google’s support (which thus far has only sent me back borderline insulting template emails).

Has anyone encountered anything like this? Any ideas on how to fix it?

Finally, any SEO/SEM experts interested in trading some assistance for some free time at the beach?

Details on the problem are in this Adwords Help Forum Thread.

Speed Up Your AJAX With Google AJAX Libraries

Dion Almaer of Google and Ajaxian.com announced late last week the AJAX Libraries API. If you use AJAX, you’ll want to pay attention to this announcement. What does it mean?

Popular AJAX libraries including:

  • jQuery
  • prototype
  • script.aculo.us
  • MooTools
  • dojo

are now being hosted on Google’s servers for use on your site or applications. Why would you link to a file hosted on Google’s server? Because it is optimized for speed by providing the libraries in the following way:

  • Gzipped
  • Minified
  • Far future expires headers to increase caching
  • Delivered using Google’s extensive content delivery network

They are providing multiple versions of each library and even include a javascript loader for the libraries. For more on the benefits of this service, check out Steve Souder’s coverage and Dion’s extensive information on Ajaxian.

If you are using any of these AJAX libraries, you would be foolish not to seriously consider taking advantage of this service.

German Interview with Google’s Eric Schmidt

Google CEO Eric Schmidt sat down with the Frantfurter Allgemeine (FAZ.net) to discuss things mobile and social networks among other things.

On mobile:

Just take the success of the iPhone: It has the first really powerful web browser on a mobile device – and many more are still coming. Nokia has one coming, Blackberry has one and Motorola has one. They are all supposed to be released this year. By these products, the advertising gets more targeted because phones are personal. So targeted ads are possible. And that means the value of the ads will grow. The next big wave in advertising is the mobile internet.

On social networks:

MySpace did not monetize as well as we thought. We have a lot of traffic, a lot of page views, but it is harder than we thought to get our ad network to work with social networks. When you are in social network, it is not likely that you´ll buy a washing machine.

Some good stuff in there. I recommend the full article.

Google Speeds Up Mobile Sites, Sees Traffic Increase

One of the reasons for my interest in site performance is because these techniques become even more important when developing for mobile. Google published some recent evidence supporting this belief.

“We saw something similar after we launched an updated interface for Gmail on the iPhone during MacWorld earlier this year. Lots of iPhone users tried the new interface (hence the bump in Gmail pageviews between January and February), but they didn’t stick around like we hoped they would. Over the course of the next few weeks, we made some tweaks to drastically improve the speed of the product, and Gmail pageviews on the iPhone not only stabilized, but began to rise, as the graph below shows:”

gmail-latency-improvement.png

Read more at Google’s blog.

Page Load Time Means Money

One of the arguments I made in my presentation on site performance last year was that making small changes to your site to speed it up can make a big difference in your revenue. This was based on bandwidth savings.

However, now marketers using Google Adwords have an additional incentive to make their pages load quickly. Google is incorporating landing page load time as one of the factors for evaluating the quality ranking of an ad:

“Users value ads that bring them to the information they want as efficiently as possible. A high-quality landing page should load quickly as well as feature unique, relevant content. Fast load times benefit advertisers as well, since users are less likely to abandon a site that loads quickly.”

For companies that are spending thousands of dollars on text ads, ignoring their landing page load time could be spendy.

I’m a Zero

I got very excited today over the news via Truemors that Google is going to start offering location-based services using cell towers to determine the location.

According to the news reports, you press zero on your mobile phone while using Google Maps to find your approximate location using cell towers. The iPhone lacks GPS so this new service sounds like a winner.

Except you can’t press zero on your iPhone. There is no zero key to press. There are no keys at all on the iPhone.

Here is where my foolishness comes in. I decided to use Google Maps on my iPhone and search for zero. Amazingly, it worked. It put a dot on the map just a few blocks from my house.

I couldn’t wait to share my discovery with my coworkers. It was only when one of them said searching for zero returned a location in South Carolina that I realized the error.

Turns out there is a business near our house with the name “0 1 All Day 24 Hour 1 Locksmith.” Searching for zero didn’t find my current location. My current location just happens to be near the top result starting with a zero.

And that’s how I ended up being today’s zero.

gPhone = Open Handset Alliance

The gPhone isn’t a Google phone. Instead, it is the formation of an alliance to develop an open platform for mobile devices.

The new consortium is called the Open Handset Alliance. The Alliance is formed around the Android platform that Google has contributed to the Alliance. Andy Rubin, Google’s Director of Mobile Platforms, describes Android as:

The first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications — all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation.

If this is true–and the devil is in the definition of “open” as it always is–this could be a substantial development for mobile devices.

UPDATE: According the Open Handset Alliance FAQs, the platform will be released under Apache v2 Open Source License. The code will have a publicly accessible repository. It sounds very open thus far.

Last summer at Web Visions, I had an extended conversation with Kinan Sweidan of Ximda who had presented on determining location using mobile devices. During the conversation, Kinan talked about how difficult it was to develop on mobile devices.

The primary problem seemed to be carriers who don’t see their phones as a platform for other development. Handset manufacturers are beholden to the carriers because their hardware and software are useless if the companies like Verizon and AT&T decide not to allow the phone on their network.

The economics also favor the carriers because the cost of developing a phone is higher than most consumers will pay which is why the cost of the hardware is often underwritten by signing contracts that lock in services. Apple is rumored to receive another $432 from AT&T for every iPhone that is sells.

With this as context, it is possible to see why the Open Handset Alliance could be a game changer:

  1. The price of developing new hardware will presumably decrease because of an open and shared development of the OS. A decrease in handset costs will loosen the hold carriers have on phone manufacturers by decreasing the need for underwriting of phone costs. This does not decrease their stranglehold on their networks. Legislation would be required for change that dynamic.
  2. The combination of Android and Apple’s recent decision to release an SDK may mark a turning point in the understanding that the value of mobile devices will increase as they open up to outside developers.

If the second point has actually come to pass–if in the last few months the mobile industry has woken up to the realization that their future is dependent on becoming a platform for a wide variety of developers–then things will get very interesting very quickly.

The possibilities for mobile devices are astounding. 2008 is shaping up to be a very big year for mobile.

Dangers of Context-based Advertising

Someone recently pointed me to this funny blog post entitled “15 Unfortunately Placed Ads” (Some of the content is a bit risqué).

The humor of the ad placements alone isn’t enough to warrant a blog post. Instead what interested me was the online ads were almost certainly placed by software attempting to match keywords.

One of the example is a Folgers Coffee ad placed next to an article entitled “Coffee Might Trigger Heart Attack in Some.” Folgers likely bought ads to be placed on Yahoo’s content network whenever the word “coffee” showed up. However, they probably wouldn’t chose to place their ad next to this story if given the opportunity to chose.

This is the danger of context-based advertising. The current filters are not smart enough to know whether or not the true context of the content is conducive to the advertising.

I wonder whether sites like Facebook will encounter this problem more frequently because it is just as likely that someone is going to be ranting about coffee as they are praising it. I imagine Google and the other leading advertising engines are already experimenting with ways to determine the positive or negative nature of the content.

I think we’ll see a lot more ads with unfortunate placement before the technology progresses to the point where it can be prevented automatically.