Taiwanese users of Google Inc’s Android Market were left in the dark yesterday as the search engine giant removed the paid app section from its online store.
The removal of the paid app section came after the Taipei City Government slapped Google with a NT$1 million (US$34,550) fine for failing to offer Taiwanese consumers a seven-day free-trial mechanism as mandated by law.
“We are suspending paid apps in Taiwan while we continue to discuss this issue with the Taipei City Government,” Google Taiwan said in a statement yesterday.
Photo: Tsai Wei-chi, Taipei Times
“Android Market already provides a 15-minute refund window for all paid apps — which reflects the fact that apps are delivered over-the-air instantly and most users who request a refund [could] do so within minutes of their purchase,” the company said in the statement.
This policy helps consumers make educated decisions about the apps they buy, while enabling Taiwanese developers to manage their businesses effectively, the statement read.
The escalation in the row came after negotiation between Google — represented by a lawyer and teleconferencers from its US headquarters — and the city broke down yesterday morning.
The city government said the suspension was a move to “coerce Taiwanese consumers into giving up their rights” and it demanded Google submit an “improvisation plan” by Friday.
The Mountain View, California-based company will be sending officials to Taipei on Thursday to continue talks with the city government, while city authorities said a second penalty might be imposed depending on the stance taken by the search engine giant.
On Friday, the city government issued Google an ultimatum mandating that it introduce a seven-day free-trial mechanism for its Android Market.
Yeh Ching-yuan (葉慶元), director of the city’s Law and Regulation Commission, then said a fine would be levied if the firm still refused to abide by the Consumer Protection Act (消保法).
Users of Apple Inc’s iPhones or Android-equipped smartphones can purchase and download application software through Apple’s App Store or the Android Market respectively, but neither company offers an extensive free-trial mechanism that allows customers to return the programs or be refunded if they are dissatisfied or if the goods prove to be faulty.
On June 4, the city government gave both companies a 15-day grace period to revise their app sales and service provisions to include a seven-day free-trial mechanism.
While Apple complied with the request, Google did not.
The Consumer Protection Act requires a free-trial period of at least seven days for items purchased over the Web because consumers cannot feel or touch the goods before purchase.
Previously, Web sites have said they were not covered by the law, but last year the government said an agreement was reached with Web site operators such as PChome Online (網路家庭) and -Yahoo-Kimo Inc (雅虎奇摩) that would see them adhere to the free-trial provision.
However, “app stores” were not included in last year’s deal.
Yeh said this is because purchasing apps for mobile devices is a trend that has only recently emerged in Taiwan.
The terms of service for the App Store and Android Market both state that the two companies are not liable for apps developed by third parties.
HTC Corp (宏達電), the world’s No. 5 smartphone brand, yesterday said it did not expect the row to have “much impact” on the sales of its handsets because users could download free-trial versions of some apps, before finally making a purchase decision.
HTC is the world’s largest producer of smartphones running on both Android and Windows operating systems and its first tablet PC — dubbed the HTC Flyer — as well as recent releases of smartphones all run on versions of Android.
China would attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, Chinese General Li Zuocheng (李作成) said yesterday. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, Li, who is chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law is China’s legislative basis for military action against Taiwan. “If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
Americans awoke yesterday to charred and glass-strewn streets in dozens of cities after another night of unrest fueled by rage over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police, who responded to the violence with tear gas and rubber bullets. Tens of thousands marched peacefully through streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on Monday last week after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. However, many demonstrations sank into chaos as night fell: Vehicles and businesses were torched. The words “I can’t breathe” were
EXTRA INVITATIONS: Russia, Australia, South Korea and India would be asked to a later summit dedicated to countering China, Donald Trump said US President Donald Trump has been forced to cancel a planned face-to-face summit of G7 leaders this month and now wants to host an expanded meeting in September dedicated to countering China to which Russian President Vladimir Putin would be invited. Trump on Saturday announced that he had canceled the June meeting, which he had billed as a symbol of the US “transitioning back to greatness,” after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him in a telephone call that she saw the summit in Washington as a health risk. Hundreds of security staff, journalists and officials also attend the two-day summits. Reports suggest