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Android Market crackdown: Google appeals to console makers, pulls emulators

by Kristen Nicole

The Android Market has been a haven for many apps that wouldn’t have been approved in the iTunes App Store, marking the open standards Google (GOOG) touts, and highlighting Apple’s (AAPL) control over its own app marketplace. But Google’s been clamping down on the Android Market lately, most recently shutting down a series of game console emulators from developer Yong Zhang. To add insult to injury, Zhang’s Market developer status has also been revoked, as Engadget reports. His app emulators, including Nesoid, SNesoid and N64oid, enable gamers to manage and run console games on their phones, a movement that helped drive gamer interest in mobile platforms, reviving generational interest in console games.

It may be this redirected attention gamers are placing on mobile devices that’s lead to Google’s new enforcement on the Android Market. A handful of other emulators have been removed from the Market this year, due to growing pressure from console makers like Sega and Sony (SNE) over trademark infringement by app emulators. The removal of Zhang’s popular apps has caused quite a stir in the gaming industry, making it difficult to ignore the timing; Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation phone, the Android-powered Xperia Play, was launched just last week.

Marketplace standards beyond Google

Now that the Android Market is becoming more established, spawning third-party marketplaces from the likes of Amazon (AMZN), Google’s tightening its regulatory controls. It would seem that Google’s appealing to big brands in gaming and entertainment, as DRM restrictions have also kept rooted Android devices from accessing YouTube movie rentals. Not only does Google need to better manage its own Android Market, but ultimately help establish standards for these independent marketplaces.

Gaming in particular has encouraged third party marketplaces and hubs, garnering investor interest worldwide. OpenFeint, which boasts 3 million new users monthly and was recently acquired by Japanese networking provider Gree, is on a steady release of integrated games for the Android Market. The social-powered gaming platform has launched 16 new titles for Android, including Angry Viking, Froggy Jump, Abyss Attack, as well as Glu’s Contract Killer and Big Time Gangsta, making OpenFeint an important part of several developers’ marketing and distribution ecosystem