Will Verduzco · May 13, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Opera and Nokia Populating the Nokia Android App Store without Developer Permission

The Nokia X is quite a unique “Android” device. And when we refer to the X as such, it’s only in the loosest definition of the term. This is because the X packs such a heavily skinned UI that you’d never be able to detect its distantly removed AOSP underpinnings at first glance.

Naturally since Nokia is now officially owned by Microsoft, the Nokia X lacks access to Google Play and related Google services. Instead, the device relies on various Microsoft and Nokia services such as Nokia’s Android App Store. This app store is run by Opera, which in turn has its own Android app store.

So why’s all of this relevant? Well, it’s no surprise that even though the vast majority of Android apps are capable of running seamlessly on the Nokia X, developers haven’t exactly been jumping at the opportunity to load their apps into Nokia’s Android app store. After all, why would a developer with limited time resources target an app store that only one family of (low end) devices can access? But rather than enticing application developers to upload their existing apps to the Nokia app store, Nokia is doing this for them and contacting users after the fact. This is where things get a bit sticky.

Enter Ander Webbs, developer of the highly regarded ADW.Launcher. Yesterday, the developer received an email from Nokia stating that they had created a developer account for him and populated it with ADW.Launcher. All he had to do was to get in touch with them in order for the application to go live. Naturally, this resulted in a great deal of confusion, as this application was put in the Nokia app store without the developer’s consent.

Upon learning of Ander Webbs’s dismay Opera software marketing team member Anna Melnychuk got in contact with  the developer, stating that this was done because the application was available in the Opera Android app store. However, Ander Webbs never registered as an Opera developer. Rather, he registered his application with Handster, which was acquired by opera three years ago, and the application was moved to its place in the Opera app store without his knowledge. This then enabled Opera to transfer the app to the nascent Nokia Android App Store.

It’s easy to understand Nokia’s motivations in pursuing such a course of action. After all, they’ve now got an Android device that’s perfectly capable of running Android apps, but there aren’t too many apps available for users to readily install without resorting to alternate app stores or sideloading. But while these actions may not be as nefarious as if Nokia / Opera had extracted the APK from the Google Play Store and uploaded it to the Nokia Android App Store, they are still questionable at best. Hopefully, this practice will come to an end and proper developer recruitment will take place. That said, I wouldn’t hold my breath, given parent company Microsoft’s track record in the past.

[Many thanks to OEM Relations Manager jerdog for the heads up!]


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