Google is shutting down the Marketplace forums which have, until now, required Android developers to resolve their problems in public and without much in the way of official support.
Developers who have questions about the Android Marketplace are now being asked to submit those questions directly to Google – hopefully soliciting a decent reply rather than the stony silence which has greeted the various problems aired on the public forums which are being shut down.
Typical of those was the missing payments: developers weren't receiving money owed on web sales, and ranted and raved on the public forum, which was the only platform for complaint available to them. That issue has now been resolved, and everyone has been paid the money owed to them, but not before the problem had been very publicly dissected and discussed.
Which may be one of the reasons behind Google's decision to start talking to developers directly:
"We feel that one-on-one support is best for the types of threads that have historically been posted to this forum by app developers," says the company's posting, which also explaining that ongoing issues will remain open until solved, but new problems should be raised directly with Google.
One might view this as Google trying to avoid embarrassingly public discussions of Marketplace problems, but it is equally likely that the time when problems could be resolved by one's peers has passed. When the Android Marketplace was launched, lots of people needed help understanding how it worked and how to use it, and peers could often provide that support. These days the basics are widely understood so the remaining problems are more likely to require Google's intervention.
That optimistic conclusion can only be borne out if Google does respond to direct questions rapidly and usefully. The utility of Google's responses won't be public any more, but we'll keep talking to developers and be sure to let you know how the situation evolves. ®