Apr 19 AT 9:38 AM Russell Holly 11 Comments

When Google steps in; a ShopSavvy story.

There are many who say that Google’s grip on Android is not tight enough. There are those who cry fragmentation, those who complain that “inferior” devices are being made, and those who say that Google doesn’t do enough to police the Android Market. Well, a huge step towards annihilating that third complaint was seen this week, as Google finally stepped in to put and end to what can only be described as the single most childish action I have ever seen one company do to another.

Most people are at the very least aware of ShopSavvy, Big In Japan’s remarkably good barcode scanner app. They’re so good, in fact, that a handful of other companies resorted to simply hijacking their API’s for their own apps, and made quite a bit of money doing it. Big In Japan was able to nip that particular issue in the bud, but one company saw fit to retaliate, the creators of an app called ShopKick.

This is one of dozens of comments, seen once in every three comments in the Android Market for ShopSavvy. Other comments have included “Free $25 gift cards” and various similarly worded offers. This is more than simply attacking the guy on top, but rather an expensive campaign targeted at new users who would try ShopSavvy. Like I said, however, Google stepped in.

Recently, Big in Japan has noticed that within a day or two, these comments disappear from their comments entirely. While it’s not seemed to slow ShopKick down, since there are more comments in the Market even now, it’s clear that Google’s Android Market spam filter is doing its job, and trying to keep the Market from being unusably full of junk. Score one for the good guys, and score one for those of us who know Google’s doing their part!

I write things.

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  • http://Website c0z

    Sadly this is happening too often and Google is trying to play catch-up. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I’m starting to think the market needs a more dedicated team of moderators. Especially when a free app is on top and a paid one wants a little money (for the stolen API they’re using, as you mentioned). Seen this comment fiasco happen on MANY camera apps, text replacement apps, etc.

    • http://www.red JasonW

      Comment

  • http://Website dbest180

    It’s about time but Google will have to pull the reigns on this kind of behaviour and the whole Android experience. If they don’t they will always be the next best thing to iOS. Until someone else does better than they.

  • http://Website Matt (aka @FroYoDroid)

    Another well written and well researched piece… great job. Oh and thanks Google for kickin spam in the family jewels!

  • http://dstrdly.us ryaninc

    Unless you guys have inside info (which is entirely possible), I find it highly unlikely that these comments are coming from Shopkick itself, but rather from the thousands and thousands of over-zealous users who want their personal redeption codes used. Shopkick encourages users to get their friends to sign up using those codes, so quite a few users have taken to the comments to spread false promises, like gift cards, to get others to sign up. Shopkick has always truck me as a pretty stand-up app and I really, really doubt they’d do this themselves.

    • AME

      This has been going on since the beginning of the Market. People just want to get referral bonuses. You don’t see this type of thing happening on apps that don’t have competitors offering referral bonuses.

      It’s good to see progress in this direction after 2+ years though.

  • http://Website 5280Droid

    Thank you Google for at least attempting to filter this junk out. Now it’s time for me to uninstall ShopKick. I know, I know, I should never have installed in the first place, but I refuse to help out any app/company that enters into this kind of spam….

  • http://Website josh

    i always hit the ‘spam’ button when i see those annoying comments in the market. i hate seeing them.

    it bugs me the same way that people leave “use code 5145 for 20MB on DropBox!”. (that’s not a real code, nor do i own a dropbox, so don’t even comment on it :) )

  • http://uloops.net k7k0

    Also Google should stop the market search spam. For example search for our app Uloops in the market: https://market.android.com/search?q=uloops&so=1&c=apps Nick Nelson uses as keywords the names of the top apps for each category. How to report this bad behavior?

  • http://www.shopsavvy.mobi Alexander Muse

    Cyriac commented, emailed and called me to explain that he had nothing to do with the ShopKick Comment Spam issue we (and other apps) have been dealing with. If ShopKick is not to blame who should we blame? He argues that his ‘app-assassins’ are acting on their own without the consent of ShopKick. Cyriac’s own explanation details how ShopKick has created an incentive system that rewards their users who engage in comment spam and yet he suggests there is nothing he can do about it. See how the lines get blurry? Cyriac and his team have designed a program that causes their users to damage their competitors apps and yet his hands are clean — ‘sorry, nothing we can do about that!’ I responded to Cyriac directly and have asked him to come up with a plan to stop this from happening in the future.

  • http://androidandme 5280 froyo

    Google might want to take a closer look at Shopkick. After reviewing the invasive permissions and a comment from user that stated she resides in Wisconsin, but the app showed her location as being in an African country, we took a huge pass on this app. The user didn’t make the connection, but we sure did.