The CommonsBlog

...And This Is Why I Work This Way

People wonder why I focus most of my Android developer support efforts on StackOverflow, rather than the android-developers Google Group.

Well, this is part of the reason why (“All the content contributed to Stack Overflow, Stack Overflow Meta, Server Fault, and Super User is cc-wiki (aka cc-by-sa) licensed, intended to be shared and remixed.”).

People wonder why I focus on writing a blog, rather than dumping it in favor of some site like Google+.

Well, this is part of the reason why.

People wonder why I rarely write or talk about the Play Store, and when I do, it is frequently in the context of discussing its alternatives.

Well, this is part of the reason why.

Some additional notes on the AdBlock Plus situation, since that is of greater relevance to Android developers:

  • While I have had personal issues with AdBlock Plus, that stemmed from their use of a dubious technique to set themselves up automatically as a system-wide proxy server. Android should have a way to set up such a system-wide proxy, perhaps via the device administrator avenue. However, apps should not be able to just set themselves up as a device-wide proxy, particularly since, last I checked, there is no special permission for serving as a proxy. Malware could have a field day with that approach. AFAIK, though, that is not why their app was banned, and AFAIK this technique has been closed off in Android 4.2 anyway.

  • While many, such as the EFF, have decried the banning of AdBlock Plus, my greater concern is the total lack of transparency with respect to these bans. Any number of developers have been banned, with opaque explanation to the developers and no explanation at all to the public. “With great power comes great responsibility”, and all that, so while Google has the right to ban apps from their own marketplace, they have a responsibility to ensure that everyone understands why these bans occur.

  • With respect to “are ad-blockers evil?”, I have a difficult time getting worked up about it, as I view mobile advertising as being next to useless for developers. Ad-based apps are not significantly different from paid apps, in that they are both a “long tail” environment. The only winners in a long tail are those who run the market (e.g., Google) and the handful of apps that get into the head. For many developers, therefore, “the only winning move is not to play”, finding some non-long-tail niche or business model.