Android Uprising: Angry developers and users form separate online protests against Google and AT&T

March 2, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

AT&T, Google


Both Google and AT&T are facing separate incidents of small protests from angry customers. In Google’s case, a group of Android app makers upset about “working conditions” in the Android Market, and a band of customers are upset about data speeds for AT&T 4G phone.

The Android Developers Union alleges that Google treats third-party developers like “sharecroppers on Google’s digital plantation.” It’s a rather dramatic claim, but the unknown number of developers are angry with several Android Market options. Among its seven demands, the Developers Union wants a higher revenue split, more filtering options to highlight new apps by region or popularity, more payment options, and better communication.

Google has already made it possible to buy Android apps through carrier billing, and more payments options are on the way. As for the desire to have a Communication and Engineering Liaison, the Developers Union is absolutely right. Google lacks a clearly defined contact method for addressing market issues – I’ve noticed similar problems in other areas of the company – that often leads to issues languishing in support forum purgatory or not getting resolved unless people pester Google employees on Twitter or contact Android blogs. The Android Market would greatly benefit from an established contact who could help deal with problems related to the Android Market.

Google has a comparatively good track record when it comes to dealing with third-party developers, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the company was already working on addressing most of these issues prior to the Developers Union petition. More information is available at the official ADU website.

“AT&T Fail” Protest

Meanwhile, a group of disappointed AT&T customers claim AT&T unfairly caps data speeds on 4G Android phones. Zack Nebbaki started an online petition to ask why his Motorola Atrix registers slow data speeds yet the iPhone 4 is able to perform at a much higher rate. Motorola Atrix users report that their devices have paltry upload speeds, often ranging between 150kbps to 300kbps. For the sake of comparison, people on Sprint’s 4G WiMax network are capped at 1 Mbps. (Network performance varies greatly according to the user’s location, but 300kbps seems to be the max speed reported.)

The petition demands that AT&T deliver “real 4G” speeds and lift the data caps on its users. For the moment, let’s put aside the “real 4G” talk because HSPA+ is still rolling out in select markets, so AT&T’s service will be questionable in some places. However, the data caps on upload speeds is an undeniable reason for complaint. Only 310 people have signed the Atrix petition since yesterday, but AT&T – certainly no stranger to customers angry with network performance – could have a budding problem on its hands.

We reached out to AT&T for comment on this issue and have yet to hear back.We’ll keep trying to find out more information on data speeds, but affected AT&T customers can get more information about the online petition here.