Microsoft revokes Windows Phone app that undermined developers’ paychecks

In doing this job, there’s the easy news – apps, device reviews, leaks – and then there’s the hard news, like criticizing Microsoft, leaking too much or talking about illegal apps. Today’s story falls into the latter category, but it’s more about the aftermath.

Long story short, a developer named Al Gihuni released a free app called ‘Free Market’. The app did something unique: it allowed you to find an app listed in a different region, perhaps at a lower price. The idea here is that some developers price their apps differently based on the market, or sometimes they run regional sales. ‘Free Market’ though took advantage of that by letting users find those price differences with a few clicks and the app tagline – “Download paid apps for free!” – was quite inflammatory.

Developers were not pleased, to say the least.

We opted not to cover the app due to the somewhat controversial nature of the subject matter. Windows Phone already has enough issues in trying to convince developers to invest their time to make apps. And forget their time, it’s really about money, as it’s quite difficult to make a buck on such a small – but growing – ecosystem.

Still, this is certainly a grey area app as giving consumers the power to search for cheaper prices does have a nice ring to it. Getting lower prices is more of an issue for emerging markets, where many people don’t have credit cards to make Store purchases. That means they can never buy an app, so they often rely on those temporary sales and discounts.

Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, Microsoft has evidently revoked the app from people’s phones. That’s a rare move – one of last resorts – reserved for apps that are malicious or are themselves pirated software.

For example, way back in December 2011, we reported to Microsoft a popular paid navigation app had been re-uploaded as a free app to the Store. Sure, Microsoft could just remove the app from the Store, but they took the extra step of revoking it from those who had already downloaded it, essentially mitigating any damage to the original developer.

In fairness, Gihuni did delist the app before Microsoft was able to do so. We asked him to comment on that issue and how it transpired:

“I don't think it jeopardized the security or functionality of Windows Phone however. Developers have made their apps free in some markets by their choice, and users have always been changing their regions for these offers. My app was just a search tool, nothing more.

It got popular in a few hours and got thousands of users, mostly from China and South America. I myself also put my other apps in the list. It was very useful, but developers didn't like it.

I unpublished it before Microsoft revoked it, because of the negative reactions of developers…A good relationship between devs and users was important…”

For what it’s worth, Al Gihuni’s ‘Free Market’ was not malicious to the user, but it was damaging to developers looking to make money. It also looked bad for Microsoft. Earlier, Gihuni actually helped to identify a Store bug that could allow an app to bypass privacy permissions. Microsoft eventually patched that bug after we had some back channel discussions with them. We would not describe him as malevolent, just another developer trying to make a name for himself. In that sense, we’re not getting out the pitchforks, as we think sometimes devs test the waters and learn from their mistakes. And at least for now, Microsoft has put their foot down.

What do you folks think? Should apps like that be allowed on the Store?

Thanks, Fadil R., for the screenshot


Reader comments

Microsoft revokes Windows Phone app that undermined developers’ paychecks



Users get better quality apps when the developers are better supported. Stealing isn't justified just because you're too cheap to shell out a couple bucks for an app. If you want to use their product, pay the price they're asking for it. Or find another product.

Charging money for something you like and want to use isn't hurting users.. You pay for school college, tv, computer etc etc.. Paying $ 1-3 (₹155) isn't so bad.. If you made some something using your abilities and time, you'd expect money for it, right?

No looking for a good price or the lowest is smart.

But the premise there is you have acknowledged that you are and need to pay for the service/product and generally that is a multitude of "3rd party retail outlets".

Some markets just cannot afford to buy stuff and devs may give it away for exposure in the market.

so if you are not in that market you are stealing the exposure benefit and any future possible benefits from the developer in that market.

What is created by this behaviour is a single pricing stratgey that hurts us all eventually.

That's right, have any of you seen the article about the developers who are going to jails over I guess republishing app from the google play store? I know this guy wasn't charging for his app, but he was basically provide a method of stealing. This might keep him from being convicted of a crime since the courts are starting file criminal charges related to apps

Um no, this really wasn't stealing, its like buying stuff from UK and German amazon because its cheaper then in your country. I don't understand why would developer set different price in different country. In Europe apps are just more expensive because the price needs to be 0,99 which in € is well over a dollar. Look at this the other way and ask developers to treat all of us equally and give fair price to everyone.

That was exactly what I was going to say.

What the guy did is provide a search portal for price comparison by region for the same app published by the same developer, but at different prices per region.

The users or in this case the buyers should be the ones pissed off (Being robbed blind) by region, especially those that have to shell out more money for same app from same developer because of their region.

All the guy did is call the developers out on their non fairness pricing wise to customers.

Nobody is advocating that developers should not earn for their work, but why should they provide it free for someone in one region and charge someone else an arm and a leg for same product in another region?

There are many reasons to make something (such as an app) cheaper or more expensive in some regions than others.

There is no excuse in circumventing this decision by the devs.

As has been stated, you do not have a God given right to these apps. You do not walk into a store in the UK, for example, pick up a pair of jeans price tagged at £100, go to the cash desk and hand over £50 saying simply "They are this price in the US." No. You certainly have the right to not buy them for this reason...but if you want them, you need to pay the asking price from where you are buying them.

Exactly, I'm going to order them online from US. When I'm buying stuff I always research all European amazons before buying where its the cheapest. I mostly have problem with pricing per country because most apps are priced at 0,99€ while in US they're 0,99$, which is about 30% less. And my country has far lower GDP than US. But why are we even arguing about it, when store won't let you buy stuff if your card details don't match the set region. Another thing in upset about is living n a tiny country that most of the world doesn't know it even exists, we never get any special deals just for us. US gets free apps, UK does too, sometimes France or Germany and that's about it really. Developers dont even know Slovenia exists, they're not going to reduce the price just for us. And guess what, if a store in Austria is selling an SSD for half the price with shipping included, I'm not going to buy it there, because well, why pat more for the same thing?

You seem to be getting caught up on the Amazon example. Perhaps because you see no difference between various Amazon marketplaces and various App Store marketplaces. You should. They are very different. I used the physical store example since this model is much closer to an international App Store model we are talking about here. Yes physical stores often round off their prices to .99...but this is by no means the only reason some prices are more in some regions than others. Same is true in an App Store.

I have heard of Slovenia. I can guarantee Microsoft have too. Dunno where you've got this seeming idea that we in the UK have all these free apps that you guys are paying through the nose for.

As I have said and has been said in previous comments, you do not have a God given right to these apps. Just as I (a professional photographer) can CHOOSE to charge people in one place one price for an item and those in another another price, app devs can too. There would usually be a good reason for this in both instances, but none the less, it is my choice to make as the content creator. If people want that product, then they can pay the price. If not enough people buy it at that price in whatever region, then I'd no doubt drop the price.

Sometimes we can get too caught up in the idea of international markets just simply being large versions of local markets. They are not. They are waaay more complicated than that.

Well said. As others have mentioned, it's likely that in many markets people can't afford even $1, and some developers might choose to give their apps away for free for any number of reasons (exposure, good will, supporting the platform, getting feedback and ratings, etc.).


As a developer my mind boggles at the lengths some users will go to to avoid paying $1 for an app or game that may have taken months of work to create. I think Windows Phone is at a point where many developers will run out of steam if people continue to avoid buying apps. The platform doesn't have the numers yet to make it worthwhile for hobbyists and amateurs to keep on pumping out apps. If users want to support the platform and its developers they should be pro-active in buying quality apps and providing feedback and ratings to developers.


I don't agree with Microsoft revoking the app in question, however. It's not doing anything wrong. Microsoft's platform has loopholes that let users download apps not available in their region (or in this case priced differently from their region). This is a failing of Microsoft's platform and protection of developers. If a developer wants to set different prices in different regions then Microsoft should take steps to ensure this works correctly.


That said, the dev did the right thing in removing the app as it is of questionable merit.

It's quite simple really.  Microsoft is doing their best to keep the global market "free" by maintaining fairness to the developers (merchants) who are making the decisions on how they want to sell their wares.

To me, it's all about rights.  I, as a developer, should have the right to sell what I want, where I want, and for how much I want.  It's up to me to decide how I want to fit into the "supply and demand" phenomena of a free market (ie:  Economics 101).

Conversely, I, as a consumer, should have the right to purchase the developer's offer or not.  My "vote" should be through my wallet, not my indignation. 

The beauty of this system is in its simplicity.  If the merchant wants to be successful, he or she needs to play by these simple rules.  Same thing goes for the consumer.

Kudos to Microsoft for getting this right.

Quote. sometime I buy stuff on Amazon.de instead of amazon.it due to cheaper prices. I often use the same "trick" on my WP. When in some market an app is free I simply change region in settings and download it for free.

I must be old. A dollar or so for an app is SO cheap. Do the complainers even know the prices we once paid for even the simplest of computer programs? Appreciate how cheap they are now. For people in emmerging markets, I can see it may be an issue. For those who spend much more, multiple times each day, on a coffee or soda, there's no excuse to complain. Support the devs if you like an app. Many are working for very little hoping it will eventually pay off.

Well put. So many people will gladly pay $5 for a coffee but can't bring themselves to hand over $1 for a well-crafted game or app.


The other night I spent about an hour emailing a user of my game who was stuck, and I was glad to help (I respond to ALL emails about my apps). After the 4th or 5th email the user complained that the full version of the game costs money ($1.49) and that I should make it free or they will be forced to uninstall it (they phrased it in a very passive-aggressive way)...I just can't imagine the mindset of some users. This is a game that I spent months working on and have sold a handful of copies of.


I'm fine with making no money off my hobby - I am not entitled to profit, and that's not why I do it; but it's sad that users value apps so low. It will just lead to fewer apps, lower quality,  and more ad-supported stuff.

What about the users? You've got an app made for you. The dev deserves to get paid for their work. As far as having to pay different prices in different regions, that is just simple economics. Take ANY goods or services and you'll see that it costs differently depending on region. The article above even stated reasons why it would be free in one place and paid in another and why it costs more in one area than another.

Support dev? But don't support if their games are XBL? Or because $2.99 is too much? I would thought this would be the perfect WPC app. LOL

AGREE....they should make teir apps free if they want them free or pai if they want you to pay for apps to all markets not a few of them.

Free is always ad supported paid ones are not.. So its not robbing anyone of anything.. Richer countries can afford $2-3 easy but in Africa and even countries like India not everyone can afford to pay for apps.. Devs should be allowed to monetize apps based on regional influence. Changing region and downloading while legal is certainly unethical..

He is just providing a way to price shop.  If you can buy the same TV from Amazon cheaper than Best Buy...wouldn't you?  If he was finding a way to download a paid only app for free (unknowing to the developer) then it would be malicious. He is just helping you find the cheapest price on that app.  Like others have said, if you want to offer the app free...offer it free everywhere.

While this may be unethical to some, it is not illegal. I should know, I play a lawyer on TV.

Right....and I'm wondering how this is much different from the many free price comparison extensions available.

Thank you... Seems some readers and commnters here are not getting it. This guys apps calls out  or exposses developers unfairness pricing across regions.

Explain why you think it's unfair to offer regional pricing. I'll explain why it *is* fair.

Firstly, $1 in the developed world is worth a lot less than the equivalent amount in the developing world. The price an American pays for a Coke might feed a family for a day in some markets.


Disposable income differs greatly too. In some countries an app is a throwaway purchase; in others it may be the only personal/entertainment purchase a person can afford in an entire week or month - a carefully considered purchase.

In some markets it's very difficult for regular consumers to get credit cards, or even bank accounts, which may be needed to make app purchases.


There are also other reasons that affect this: taxes, for example.


For these reasons, it benefits the *users* to have flexible pricing, and it benefits the developers who can find different ways to monetize their apps appropriate to different market conditions (e.g. they might want ad support in some markets where they can't sell apps, but want to sell the app where ad revenue is very low). The developer might choose to give away his app out of good will to 'poorer' markets, or simply to get exposure and feedback where they could not if the app was paid. A cheaper price might be used to compete against similar apps in certain markets, or to gain popularity where an app is struggling or where the market is big and juicy.


If the same price was enforced in all regions you'd end up with more expensive apps, fewer free apps, and fewer discounts and sales. It's well documented that the majority of purchases are by a very small percentage of users (i.e. most users never buy apps, and a small percentage buy a lot). Since it's the same people buying most apps, there is no incentive to lower prices *except to get purchases from people willing to buy who can't afford to - in certain regions*. Evidence shows that the few % who buy apps don't really care too much about price (after all, what is the difference between 99c and $2.50 really?).

I read your response and I do believe to some extent I get where you are coming from.

My take is coming from 2 fronts:

1) As a buyer in this day and age should be able to get the best value for my hard earned money. I am not asking any developer for charity, neither am I advocating stealing from hard work done by a develper. But, I should not be punished pricing wise for the same apps because of the region where I live, There are equally not affluent (purcahing power wise) people in my region.

What I think you might be missing in my argument concerning this article and few responses is that:

"The developer has the right to set his or her prices anyway he she wants per region, likewise, I have the right to hunt for the best price for same product as value for my hard earned money".

It is in the hunt for best prices as a consumer that the app in question have provided.

I have opted to buy same product from China which took almost 2 weeks to deliever from Amazon because the price was just awesome versus same product priced as advertised by local vendors. Why is the app scenario any different? Google and Bing search engines found the china store for me and I payed through Amazon, in the case of the apps in question, it acted as a search engine to find the best price for me.


2) My thinking in this 2nd point is heavily geared towards my believe in capitalism and not socialism. Don't ask me what is the difference between $2.99 and $0.99 and what $0.99 will do and or feed in third world? So, that poor person is so poor he or she can afford a smart phone but not pay for app at fair and comparable pricing and the developer clearly got that and should then stick it to me in my region?

As, I have stated above, The developer surely has that right and I am not against or bashing his right, but what get's me is that I don't have the right to hunt for better pricing? Would that be because I made a cardinal mistake or commited a crime for living in region destined to be punished pricing unfainess wise?

Lots of my friends that live in London opened U.S amazon accounts, for instance, when the first Kindle Fire tablet came out for $199, it was selling for 199 pounds in London which definitely is not $199, they all bought from their U.S amazon accounts.

Online stores have the right to *not* sell to you based on geography (and many exercise this right).


And I can't really take your argument seriously when you imply that a $2,99 app is in some way exploiting you or ripping you off.


As a developer I would rather not sell my apps and games to people who would rather undermine my attempts to get paid for my work than pay a couple of dollars for an app; with this loophole I don't get that choice.


Your comparison between developing countries and 'first world' countries is a bit distorted. Low-end Windows Phones are relatively affordable, and phones are becoming vital infrastructure in many developing countries. Princing items to the right level for a market is pure capitalism, and happens everywhere in the world with just about every product.


And again, the problem with this app is that it automates the loophole. It makes it trivial to always get the lowest price, which is not the same as 'shopping around'. A group of enthusiasts being tight-fisted isn't a problem for the ecosystem...but an automated way of undermining developer pricing options is.


It's sad that people are so defensive about the price of apps (most of which are 99c - $2.99) that they are willing to go to great lengths to use a loophole that robs developers of their chance to earn money from their work and also puts the entire ecosystem in danger...all because you can't stand to see a poor farmer in a developing country get a cheaper price?


By the way...in point 2) you seem to have capitalism and socialism confused, Enforcing the same price for everyone is more in line with socialist policy than capitalist. And like most political discussions, a single point in isolation does not make a good argument.

Thanks for your feedback

1) I did not get socialism and capitalism mixed up, you just did.

Socialism is where you think I should pay more taxes or prices because I make more.

Capitalism is where you don't tax the rich more to cater for the poor. Or ask the rich to pay higher taxes and or prices for same goods and services than the poor.

(FYI: I am originally from from Nigeria and lives in Texas)

2) You either missed my point altogether or delibrately do not want to get it. The price set by the developer is not what is at stake in terms of 99c or $2.99 being too much or too little.

I never advocated for developers not getting paid for their hard work nor that should they be cheated.

Now for all intensive purposes you at least got those, furthermore, what you want to get as my primary argument is that I consider it unfair prising for what ever crappy reason you want to give why one region customer should pay more than the other, or in extreme cases, where one region user gets it free and the other region(s)pays. That is just my opinion.


and That, as a consumer, "I EQUALLY HAVE RIGHT TO HUNT FOR BEST PRICE AS VALUE FOR MY HARD EARNED MONEY" which is what this app provided.

Kindly get my position correctly first, don't twist my position, then attack it from that position accordingly.

You are still getting capitalist and socialist ideas confused. There is nothing in socialism advocating different prices for different people based on buying power. That is a capitalist approach to giving the *seller* the power to create selling opportunities (such as higher prices in city stores compared to country stores - in a socialist country the price would be more or less fixed).


When you use a loophole to sneak a discount that wasn't offered to you you undermine developers' ability to create and support apps, and you breach a social contract. You also destroy incentives for developers to mix and match pricing and monetisation strategies to take advantage of different markets. For someone implying that socialism is a bad thing you sure have very socialist leanings, even if you don't think you do.


Digital goods aren't quite comparable to physical ones, and loopholes like this can be much more damaging (since there is no limit on how often this can be used, and the seller has no other avenue for sales, among other things).

You have contradicted yourself in saying you don't think developers should get cheated but that you should be allowed to take advantage of a loophole that achieves exactly that. There's nothing wrong with a loophole. And since you are still failing to understand one of my main points, I'll repeat it again: the loophole itself (and the use of it) is not particularly damaging - there will always be selfish and tight-fisted consumers who want everything for free and have no qualms about exploiting such loopholes; but the app in question automates the loophole to the point that it can easily replace typical buying habits en masse. That is potentially terrible for the Windows Phone ecosystem. You're being facetious when you imply this is the same as 'shopping around'.


It's a shame for the ecosystem that you have your attitude. If large developers find that users are exploiting their pricing structures they may raise their prices, remove access in certain regions, etc. This is not an ecosystem that is too big to die, and its future is in the hands of users. Using tricks that harm developers to save a dollar...profoundly sad. And it's likely now that Microsoft will close the loophole, which would prevent some very useful functionality, such as changing regions to use more Bing features.


You have still not made any actual argument as to why you think regional pricing is unfair. Your economic knowledge seems simplistic. Different economies are different, and when you simplify things to black and white it's easy to draw distorted conclusions. Selling at a lower price in a 'poor' country is not equivalent to charging you more. In fact, even a heavily discounted price in a developing country is still much more expensive in real terms. But only factoring in the actual price and exchange rates will not give that picture. I live in a country with a currency similar to the US$, but prices are much higher. You can't directly compare different economies.


You show no signs of understanding the motives of a developer using differing monetisation structures. It's not about giving the app cheaply to some and 'ripping off' others. It's about finding what works in different markets. Just like most other businesses in the world. I find it really disturbing that you cabn serioulsy consider any app price to be unfair...we're talking about software that takes months of work, is generally worth hours of entertainment or more...and generally sell for less than $2. My mind boggles...


I don't deny your right to use loopholes to save yourself a dollar. But it saddens me that you find the prospect of paying $1 for an app so abhorent...that you feel offended that someone in a different market might get a slightly better price than you...that saddens me on a level far beyond this topic.

I actually composed my response to your latest update, but later considered that you and I will just be running in circles. I respect your opinion simply because you have right to it not because I agree with it and I very much beleive in my opinion.

Yes, but you don't live in those markets and those prices weren't offered to you. You are using weaknesses in the system to pay less or pay nothing at all. 

Which is why the "right" solution is to prevent getting apps for a region you phone isn't in or has ever been in.

I assume that is not possible or not practical, so what MS did is acceptable.

I've called similar acts stealing in the forums, but I've been jumped all over for it. I still maintain.

Indistinguishable has it right on. We should support developers not try and cheat our way to free apps. It's the developers choice to charge what they want and where they want and if we support WP we should support that.

I actually agree with Gihuni. If Jay sets the WPC app to be free for India, but it's $.99 in the US, and I download from India, it's not stealing at all. Stealing is if it's $.99 everywhere and I download through a hacked tool on my pc and side load the xap.

Stealing LOL, you should learn the definition of stealing. It's just exploiting a loophole in the way marketplace works, thats all.




This should be a lesson to the devs, it's not fair for ex. why an app costs $3 in USA when it's free in China.

If you want to brag about pirating apps and screwing developers, then there's a nice little OS called Android that I think you should check out.

Google Play can revokes apps. It happen to me when there was a screw up and they thought I sold some resently purchased apps. I got a message to reinstale the app once I purchase it (Issue with Amazon Store)


So all consoles should be region locked then, all steam games, metro apps, everything should be region specific?

That is stupid, and given I'm in Australia even moreso. Our apps are 50% more even though our dollar is almost on par with US.

If we are allowed to buy a game online for cheaper to play on Xbox/PS the same should be said for apps.

You have a point there. Oh steam sales? Yeah, no, its only for US. You have to pay full price. Plus some more on top of it so US can have it cheaper.

Region locking and this are two completely different things. Region locking would be like me using an app, then it stops working if I go to another region. This is a completely different thing. For one, yes, consoles do already do this. There's a slight difference between the American/European/Asian Xbox 360 and some can play games that others can't. The guy with the highest Gamerscore actually bought every different type of console to be able to play every different game since some are region locked.

If the developer wants it to be region-specific, then so be it. That's the way the person wants to run their business. If people in China won't pay for an app, but they'll use an app with ads, then that person (who already took their time to develop for Windows Phone) should use the pricing model that works best for that region. If you don't like it, then don't buy the app from the developer. Show him you're super serious and hurt his bottom line to prove a point as to why he should charge people who can afford apps and can't afford apps the exact same price. Go on, do it.

You can't compare using the exchange rate though. In Australia we have much higher wages than in the US, and our cost of living is much higher.


As a simple example, although US$1 and AU$1 are approximately the same value, US$1 will buy more in the US than AU$1 will buy in Australia.


There are also the complexities of the economy and tax to take into account.

Its 3 bucks. If even. A developer goes though great lengths to develop a quality app to fill a void that many uses will use a d rely on. 3$ is nothing especially because we'll go out, buy a coffee, or whatever for the same, if not more, and be done with it in a matter of minutes and have nothing to show for it but a larger gut.

I understand everyone wants stuff for free or a better price, but for 3 bucks? Its almost free as it is.

Supported developers result in more developers which result in more apps and of better quality. Help grow Windows Phone. Please :P

Not fair? I'm pretty sure we here in the US usually make way more money than people in China or South America. If you can't dish $3 for a useful app, well then you have no idea the work it requires to develop an app.

Actually i know how hard is to develop apps, i'm working as much as i can to make my app available before summer.

It will be free for all regions cuz i'm not so stupid to to make it free only for a few markets.

Free, $0.99, $1.99, $2.99, idc what it is in the US. I don't care what it is in China. I know $3 here isn't the same as $3 there. Are people even doing conversions when having this conversation or getting angry about price discrepencies? Either way I don't really care how you price your app. You made it, you put the effort into it, you did everything. If you want to make me pay $3 and give it someone else I could care less, it's your app to do with what you will. And thank you for choosing Windows Phone :D.

You're jumping to conclusions without knowing the logistics. Maybe the developer is Chinese and had to go to great lengths to translate the app, maybe he sees potential for great ad revenue in China but not the US and wants to make up for it.

You obviously didn't read the article well enough. "Getting lower prices is more of an issue for emerging markets, where many people don’t have credit cards to make Store purchases." You price your app based on the buying power of the consumers. If a majority of your consumers can't possibly pay for an app, you almost have no other choice but to make it free if you want to get it in as many hands as possible. In markets where people can and will pay for an app, you have to take advantage of that. That's basic business...people that do work deserve to be paid for that work.

To be fair it's not like Devs want to make a app free in China, it's a limitation with those markets.. Making apps paid in regions such as China (or even making a app available there) is a big drag...and furthermore making it paid is a whole other story. If you want further proof theres actually a check box on the submit page for apps saying "make your app available to markets such as China".

The microsoft store website lets you do it, it's just more work. You have to manually change the "/en-us/" in the url the "/es-MX/" for example. I think everyone is getting all riled up about nothing.

Not so long ago, WPCentral published a guide about getting free angry birds games from various markets, and I never once saw anyone complain about it or calling it stealing....

@Daniel Rubino http://www.wpcentral.com/deal-alert-handful-angry-birds-games-are-free-store-right-now?page=1


You're right, you just reported about it, but the comment section is full with tips about changing the local, and where to in order to get the free games. Now, I don't see it as stealing, I just found it weird regarding the harsh tones in the comments about this app.


Question; Let's say Amazon has a sale, but just for US based address. If I'm shipping it to my hotel room in NY, as a tourist, does this consider stealing ? What is the difference between driving to a country, or changing the local on your computer ?


I think that the problem with the app is more about morality. It is pushing you to not pay for an app, by making it easier and faster, but it's not doing anything illegal. Anyone can browse the Windows Phone store website of any country and search for a free app, it'll just take longer.


Bottom line, support the developers and pay for an app. You know what I do when there's an app I like ? I buy it while commuting to work, and balance it with skipping my daily coffee. (which in most cases is about x2 the price of the app). But if there's a glitch here and there, enjoy it too, just don't abuse it.

Why should an app be $.99 in USA and $1.99 in Australia? I'm Fed up of being ripped off. I was for this app, not to get free apps, but not to get ripped off!

Chances are your Australian salary is much higher than an American with the same job (e.g. minimum wage in Australia is about 3 times higher than in the USA). Australians tend to have more disposable income/buying power (this is very complicated, and includes economical differences such as free healthcare and education, different tax structures, etc.)

The Australian dollar is generally worth less than the US dollar (this fluctuates, but it's the long-term value that matters). People always want the best side of any currency changes...they want cheaper when their currency is stronger, but don't want an increase in prices when the currency is weaker.


It may cost Microsoft (and/or the developer) more to do business in Australia.


In the standard pricing, a 99c app in the US is by default $1.49 in Australia, which is about right (given that the prices have to be a nice 'round' number).

I live in Australia where things are typically priced higher just to fleece us, and because there is a history of us paying more when it used to be more expensive to get things here (before the internet and digital distribution).

Not this exact topic, but relevant, I buy all my Xbox One games digitally from the US store. Why the crap should I pay $100AU for a game when they only charge $59US ($67AU) on the US store, and it is literally two clicks for me to save 30%? That's not stealing, that's just being smart.

I agree, that is 50% more, take into account the currency it works out about 30% more. Phones here probably cost 20% more too. Wages may be higher but so is everything else..

I didn't understand how MS removed it from people's phones. How can they do that? Is it even possible?

True, lack of privacy, who knows they might be spying on us too and giving info to ISA. Think news has put me into a deep thought now. They had to at least inform the users through mail that the app will be removed, so that the user knows what's going on

How is this a lack of privacy? You downloaded the app from their store. Therefore, they know you have the app. It's probably closer to traspass since they are removing the app from you personal property. However, I'm sure the term of agreement for the OS that you approved when you bought the phone allows this.

Heck yeah it's a lack of privacy. I was in the bathroom when some guy in a business suite barged in and grabbed my phone to uninstall it. They could have at least let me finish going #2 before the took the app away.

You actually never owned any of the software. You were always licensing it. Every piece of software has a licensing agreement that you agree to when you install it. You own the plastic dvd, but not the software on the DVD. Before there was no way for them to track if you were installing the software on other peoples computers. Restricting the installations would have caused a lot of problems and complaints. Now, with digital downloads, they have more control over their software.

I assume during the check for store updates, they're also able to push out something to check for things that need to be removed in these rare cases.

Yes, It can be done on most mobile platform (Apple, Android, and Microsoft). Amazon got in trouble for actually deleting content without informing the owner.


It happens. Amazon have done it with illegal Kindle books as well. I don't see a problem with it as long as it's only done in extreme cases (in the Amazon example I believe it was a copyright violation).


I don't think this particular app should have been forcefully removed, but it may have been violating some terms of service (but then it shouldn't have been approved in the first place).

Woah Microsoft be snooping on people's emails now they removing apps from my phone too omg doooooom!!! :D

Google Play can revokes apps. It happen to me when there was a screw up and they thought I sold some recently purchased apps. I got a message to reinstate the app once I purchase it (Issue with Amazon Store). Amazon got in trouble for actually deleting content without informing the owner.


They weren't snooping on just anyone's email. They were snopping on an employee's email who they suspected of stealing and leaking trade secrets. They also got an ok from their legal team before they did it. They employee was just stupid for using the company's network to transmit the data. I'm actually ok with them doing this. If they start scanning emails of non-employees without a court order, I would have a problem with them doing this.

You can install whatever you want in Android.

That's the only reason why I'd consider moving to a Google Play HTC One (if it ever exists).

Did you even read the article? Devs have some very good reasons for setting different prices in different markets.

Yes I read it. And I stand by what I said. Problem? Do you understand this app does what people do manually?

Do you not understand different markets? $3 is worth different amounts in different places. It only makes sense for developers to change the price according to region. Stop being so entitled.

Oh I completely understand. I also understand this is reason why people change their region being cheap asses. Big deal. Stop being dramatic. If dev are so upset then they need to take that up with MS for allowing region changes being as accessible as it is. They can change the price make it free whatever. Users are not getting pirated apps! These are their apps getting pulled from MS store. They may not be getting the price they hoped for but they still getting whatever it was set at in a region in MS Store. Do I agree no. Do I care no. I support my devs I buy in my region. But I'm not gonna sit here in scold a dev that made it easier for users to do what they was doing in the first place. SMH. But yet I'm the one being short sighted

You said:

"Then they shouldn't make it free in other markets"

And then you turned around and said:

"But I'm not gonna sit here in scold a dev that made it easier for users to do what they was doing in the first place."

Kind of contradictory don't you think?

No you don't know how to read. Obviously I said devs shouldn't make it free in other markets and obviously I said I'm not going to scold a dev that made an app to find free apps that makes it easier to find other devs free apps. Tell me where I'm scolding? Because I said they shouldn't make their apps free in other regions? That's not scolding that's truth. You twist that the way you want to to justify your means of contradiction. You should look up the word scold and rethink your post.

At least they didn't ban people for taking advantage of lower prices in other regions (like they did on Xbox).

To be fair, Al Ghiluni somewhat find a somekind of bug. He even pull it from store. Least Microsoft should thank him.

I once had something on my Xbox 360 and they were able to remove that, so I would think it would be possible here as well.

Good move MS... Though I do believe it not to be fair for devs to price apps differently from region to region or even not being consistent with promotions/sales...

Why is it not fair for devs to price differently per region? This is no different than any other company who prices their goods and services differently based on market forces and other factors.

So it's not fair to lower prices in a third world country? What about an excellent expensive app. Maybe an app costs 6 or 7 dollars. Here in the US that's less than an hour of work on minimum wage. In a developing nation that could be a whole day of work. A dev should be able to adjust the price of their app for whatever reason they choose.

If the dev can live with his app being cheaper in a third world country, he can also live with it being the same price in a first world country. Fairness goes both ways, not just the way of the poorest people.

The ecosystem is fragile to begin with. A tool like this naturally makes devs angry because it's already hard to justify putting time into WP. The cost of developing a quality app is high and don't think consumers really understand that. An app like this is just a slap in the face to those trying to build software for WP.

Yes, especially the cost of prerequisites are substantially high, need windows 8, hyper v, slat enabled processor etc for small indie devs who are starting for the first time.

Problem is Microsoft had to approve this app for it to get on the store in the first place, so its more like "Good job Microsoft cleaning up after yourself".

The App was a great idea and I'm sad to see it removed. We all look for deals - why pay full price when I can get a discount/free?
No evil was done by this developer but I can see why others wouldn't approve. This should be a reality check to those developers... Ppl want your product but not at those prices.
That's my 2¢

Are you a dev? Do you recognize the time, effort, and money that goes into a simple app? People may want all apps for free but the devs have to get paid somehow. If everyone always got all their apps without devs getting paid they would stop making apps. Devs work for the money, and not paying the price that they have set is stealing. If you think it's too expensive then don't use it.

First of all no one said stealing & I wasn't speaking as a developer but more as a consumer who is looking for the best price for the same app (that wasn't obvious?). The idea was great but like I said before "I can see why some ppl would have a problem with this". Before you respond... "I'm speaking as a consumer".

Al gihuni is talented developer by all means. Devs should blame the Microsoft backdoor bug rather than moaning that he used it legitimately

While i hated this app when it existed you have to ask yourself, "Why would a developer charge in one region, yet make an app free in another?"

If, as a dev, I say "free in my country, charge in yours" then you have to know something like this would come around inevitably. Solution, from my standpoint, is charge the same in all regions; then apps like this provide no value.

It should be up to the developer to make those decisions, as it is now.
For instance, an English speaking dev may have to make an extreme effort to translate content to another language and/or alphabet and I see nothing wrong with wanting some compensation for that effort. That is just one example, but as I said it is the developers decision as the app is their property and consumers have no right to circumvent that.

DIfferent markets have different needs. You can't charge the same for everything everywhere. It goes for all products.

As a developer myself, I'm for developers being paid what they're worth. Making apps takes skill and a lot of time. Even without going to school for a comp sci degree, it takes a few months to a year to learn the basics for programming. I don't feel the developer's intentions were cruel, but Microsoft didn't make a bad move either.

I agree. The developer didn't have an ill intent and you can't blame consumers for shopping for the best price. Sad that the app was pulled but Microsoft made the right call.

How in the world did Microsoft remove my APP?! This is outrageous...no privacy and controls over the app on the phone?

Same way the push to phone works when installing via the website on a pc when you logged in - it is a two way street plus you are constantly logged in on your phone via your ms account and connected via wi fi or cellular internet.

Honestly, I got impatient for that app checking all countries, so I never really used it, plus I hate switch region just to download an app(that includes future updates of that app)

You don't own the software on the phone. You only have the right to use it. So its up to Microsoft how you use their software. This is true no matter which platform you use.

I know I don't, is just creepy how Microsoft can delete stuff from my phone secretly. What happens if they deleted my personal stuff? So now I can't trust my phone with important files in it?

There is no logical reason to expect Microsoft to delete your personal data. This is a clear example of Microsoft exercising their rights to remove malicious applications from their store, It's an important right for them to reserve.


How would you feel if an app managed to steal your bank account details and Microsoft weren't able to (effectively) ban it?


There is no evidence of Microsoft (or any other platform) of arbitrarily using this mechanism to remove legitimate software or to remove personal files, and no reason to expect this could ever be the case.


And you shouldn't keep anything on your portable phone that isn't backed up elsewhere regardless. Phones are easy to lose or break.

Developers make different prices for markets for a reason, bypassing that negates those decisions. So Microsoft made the right call here.

I have mixed feelings about this application. Naturally I understand that some developers would feel angered, as they potentially lose revenue due to it.

On the other hand, I feel it's somewhat hypocritical that WPCentral avoided covering the application because of its "controversial" nature. In what way is this any different to the numerous posts on WPCentral tipping users off to sales and freebies? The end result is the same.

Consumers should have choice, though it seems that in the smartphone world this just isn't allowed.

I think it's because WPcentral promotes apps. If they covered it then it would seem like they are promoting an app that gives a way to bypass paying devs for their work. WPCentral should stay neutral on an issue like this. That's the way I see it.

I also wanted to avoid a shitstorm of comments. I mean, don't get me wrong, some days I really enjoy poking you guys, it's fun for me. But I just wasn't feeling it yet yesterday with this app. 

The issue with grey area stuff is just that, it's grey. That means sometimes we cover it, sometimes we don't. But consistency won't be a factor, since it's at our whim each time.

There's a joke in there somewhere about enjoying poking us guys, but I will just hint at it rather than put it out there. Keep the tone of the conversation at a reasonable level.

It's not really a criticism of WPC but I wanted to make the point as I feel that the developer did not have any ill intentions.

But there are often posts regarding deals in a certain region. People then just change their region and cash in. It seems to me that this application just did the work for people.

It didn't install pirated applications (and can't anyway), as far as I am aware it didn't do anything remotely illegal.

Have you ever gone on holiday and bought an item while you were there as it was cheaper? It's not really any different.

With digital distribution this kind of automation leads to *massive* disruption though. If a handful of people get a free download by navigating a loophole it's no big deal. But as soon as you automate that it becomes very easy for lots of people to take advantage of that loophole - and make a habit of it.


I don't think it's fair to compare this to traditional markets where supply and demand are more stringent. When a local store has a free giveaway it's limited, and temporary. When people can get apps for free it's totally undermining the developer.

Because this application only shows the cheapest region for the application on the Store.  There is no piracy here. There is no malpractice here. It is simply a tool for finding the cheapest option. Like all those price comparison sites I'm sure you use every day, but instead for applications.

Any developer could easily set the price to be the same in every region and then this application would make absolutely no difference to their revenue. 

The current Windows Phone APIs do not really allow for any malicious activity such as piracy of applications. they're far too restrictive.

I agree, so acording to Microsoft we can't use the american amazon or the british amazon......beacause they have different prices, for ex. even if we find lower price for the thing we want in the american amazon we have to buy it from the british amazon cuz we live there....  

if the competition does, there is no reason for MSFT to be labeled inferior for yet one more nonsensical WP restriction. have we learned nothing from the XB1 region lock?

Doesn't MS check each app before releasing it to the store? When I saw it, I was surprised it even made it to the store.

Most of that checking is just a computer system. They don't have time to look at each app long enough to really understand what it does. Too many apps are submitted on a daily basis.

I understand why some people are upset by developers charging different prices in different regions, but that's how business works. You charge higher prices where you can and lower where you cannot. You run sales and specials to gain interest and popularity. Same reason everyone always complains about store deals that are always US-Only. Why shouldn't developers have the option to make those kind of deals? The app had to go. As much as users loved it, it undercuts the developers, which keep the platform evolving and fill in where the OS doesn't. You really don't want to drive those people away.

The only way the app store is going to grow is if developers can make money from it. This guys app was a good idea in principle, but ultimately I'd rather pay for my apps if it helps to keep the developers on board.

This is just stupid. If Microsoft had a problem with the App they shouldn't have allowed it on the Store in the first place.


Also, if developers have a problem with this, there's a simple solution: EQUALITY. Instead of giving benefits to users in one country over another, treat them all equaly.


That said, while the app on my 920 was "revoked" the same app still works on my 1020. Go figure.

Man this is not fair, the way you think. Some countries need to have different prices if the developers want to make their apps successful there.
As an example: here in Brazil you have to has an international credit card for buying apps in the store. Guess what? 90% of the population hasn't. And no one single operator offers phone billing as an option for it neither. Almost anyone can buy an app in here. Happily I am one of the minority.

But that requirement doesn't affect the functioning of the store. Or do you mean that just because people in Brasil don't have wide access to international credit cards, they should get apps for free while other people in the world have to pay for them?

It seems the lack of ways to pay for an app is more of a Microsoft-problem and not so much of a problem with Apps like this.

Don't you think the developer should have the ability (and right) to let those Brazilian users get the app for free (or cheaper, or ad supported) in order to monetize, help those users, and/or promote Windows Phone while still retaining the ability (and right) to sell their hard work to users who can access a credit card and afford a $1 purchase?


If we were talking about expensive items I would agree that the disparity in price would not be very fair. But we're talking about people complaining that they have to pay $2 for something that others get for $1 or free. It's saddening to think that this is how people value the hard work of developers.

A $5 app in the US is not the same price as a $5 app in a poor country. It makes up a much larger portion of that person's income. Also, that should be the dev's choice. If sales are lagging in a certain country the dev can adjust accordingly. We can't assume that all of the factors that go into setting the price are the same in all countries.

But you can't even buy apps outside your region...so I don't see the point. Last time I tried to switch to the US market to get an app cheaper (because, precisely of the cambial difference between the euro and the dollar) it didn't allow me.
So it's just a question of not allowing developers to put apps free in one place and paid in another.

You most certainly can, which I find odd. There are few comments from people in this article that did it successfully.

Well I've tried it on several devices with several accounts and none of them allowed me to buy apps outside my region. And I do have an international credit card and all that.

I agree that maybe Microsoft should have never allowed the app to be published, but as usual, you are being shortsighted on the reasoning here for developers.
There are several reasons for a dev to set prices differently based on region/market, one being the effort that goes into translating content. Another would be special promotions to increase downloads in an area where the app may not be as popular as some regions. Yet another example would be ad revenue potential may not be the same universally across markets.
Ultimately, the app is the intellectual property of the developer and it is their right to sell/distribute it as they please.

For the pricing argument, see my answer to kb4000.

As for the policies...well, developers can put the apps for free in some places...but from the moment they decide to do that, knowing that WP users can change regions, they shouldn't be so pissed off at an app that only shows in which markets the app is free. Users can get the app free anyway thanks to Microsoft allowing the regional change...so...

You really didn't address my pricing argument. You just said its not possible, which just isn't true.

Well I've tried it on several devices with several accounts and none of them allowed me to buy apps outside my region. And I do have an international credit card and all that. So no. From my experience, it is not possible to BUY apps. It is possible to download apps from other regions as long as they are free. If an app in my region is payed but it's free elsewhere, I can get it free there. But I can't go, say, to the American Store and buy an app with dollars. The system doesn't allow me.

We're talking apples & oranges while you continue to throw oranges blindly.
Develop a few apps and see how you feel about it.
Troll on.

I think he understands but what he is trying to say that there's a deeper problem with the system. You can take advantage of the system as long as you manually do it yourself & don't have any help from an app/Microsoft.

Developers can price their apps as they see fit & I honestly don't have a problem with it. Given the opportunity a consumer will always choose free over paying if the quality remains the same.

Thank you! Clearly someone actually read what I wrote.

Although it's pretty useless to try to explain anything to tanglewoodDEV. He's determined to don't understand what I mean just so he can keep trolling. Eventually he'll get a life.

Right, right... I think we all know who the troll is.
Anyway you can rationalize anything anyway you want. You know as well as I do that you ignore points and continue to harp on single scenarios and twist facts to suit your argument.
It makes it impossible to converse with you.
Actually, I do enjoy "trolling" you because that is what you are.
I'll keep saying it until you do it, have some integrity and stick to your word and leave.

Yes, they did do the right think but they should have sent a world wide alert as opposed to removing it on the sly. The press and "certain" techs are going to have a field day with this story. Edit: also how did it pass certification? Lol

It was something that never should of seen the light of day to begin with. The developer should of reported it to Microsoft just as he did with the exploit he found. For anyone complaining about this, are you seriously telling me that you can't afford a couple of bucks for an app you may want because if that's the case, you probably shouldn't have a smartphone to begin with. Moral indignation arguments don't work here. Bypass the Starbucks for a day, leave the fast food at the restaurant, the pop or candy bar in the machine, get water from the tap for once instead of carrying a bottle, for one time only, get the no-name grocery item instead of the brand and guess what? You'll have that extra couple of bucks to get your app.