On Google Play Removing Argentinean Apps

Update

As expected (and hoped) Google ended up not removing apps developed by Argentinean companies or individuals. This is the right move, but still, the way the “bad news” were originally communicated leave a lot to be desired.


I woke up this morning to the news that Google Play would no longer accept apps from developers in Argentina “Due to ongoing challenges making payments to Argentine developer” (Google’s official statement is here. I saw it first reported on Celularis in Spanish, then on The Verge in English, and there was a thread in Slashdot as well if you want to read some opinions on politics).

While doing international businesses in Argentina might be more challenging than in other countries, it’s certainly possible. Apple doesn’t seem to have any issue wiring money and following all the local laws, so why is Google thriving?

One thing that’s clear, is that Google wants to start using Google Wallet for payments instead of AdSense accounts. However, so far, Google hasn’t changed anything in AdSense where it’s still possible to create and account while being based in Argentina (which means they have means to pay in Argentina).

So is this really about “ongoing challenges” or about Google’s recent “focus”?

I think it’s a combination of two things:

  1. Google wants to automate as much as possible, and pushing wallet might be simpler for them (for reasons I don’t understand).
  2. Google doesn’t care enough about its developers.

The second is the one I can’t swallow. Developers are what make a platform popular. As a company, you should try to help them, not piss them off, and try to keep their businesses helthy.

A matter of manners

Is this really an announcement to be be made via email on a Friday at 8PM as it was done?
Couldn’t it happen that some of the companies or individuals whose apps are being pulled shortly have families or employees that rely on the income the app business generates?

Blaming others

The subtext of Google’s communication is that Argentina’s regulations are to be blamed. However, they conduct a business here with AdSense, and have offices here as well.

I really hope Google reverts this soon, before having to pull any apps from Google Play. It would be a demonstration that they care about our development community. I’m not holding my breath, though. In the meantime, maybe we should publish apps from Google Island instead, where Google Wallet is the only mean for payments and taxes are probably deprecated.