We’re lucky we have the App Store

As Apple fans, we may complain quite a bit about the situation in the Middle East but there’s one thing we have going for us, at least compared to users of some other products. That is that we can download and purchase apps and games for our iPads, iPhones and iPod touches from Apple’s App Store.

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Published: Sat 20 Nov 2010, 10:48 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:52 AM

If you’re keeping up with the latest technology news, you may be aware that the Android equivalent to App Store, Android Market, is not available on official devices sold in the UAE.

Last week I reviewed Samsung Galaxy Tab, the first real challenger to iPad in the tablet market. Samsung has done a good job with the 7-inch tablet and for many potential tablet customers, it’s going to be more appealing than iPad for various reasons.

But being an Android device, one major drawback with the Tab is that the Android Market app is missing. That means that users can’t install apps, or rather, they can’t install all available apps as easily as they should be able to.

Android Market is basically the equivalent of Apple’s App Store and it requires an app to be installed on the device, just as there’s an App Store app on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. If that app is not there, users have to rely on third-party alternatives, like SlideMe, and none of them is as good as, not even all of them combined, as the Android Market.

For example, try finding the official Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare apps with SlideMe. Don’t get me wrong, SlideMe and other alternatives do give users access to apps, but none of them offers the complete range of apps that the Android Market does.

It’s easy enough to enable Android Market on devices that don’t have the app, but why should users even have to worry about that? Also, if you buy an Android device from outside the UAE, it’s likely to have Android Market installed.

Why Android Market is not on devices sold in the UAE and Saudi Arabia is a bit of a mystery and no one has made a public statement about this matter. My best guess is that the TRA and Google haven’t come to an understanding yet about how to regulate the market. The App Store we have access to in the UAE is not the same as the US one, so presumably Apple and the UAE government made some deal about what should and should not be available in the store. A quick search in Android Market reveals quite a number of apps that I can see being objectionable to the UAE authorities.

Perhaps, as Apple fans, we should be happy that the competition doesn’t enjoy the same situation we do, but we shouldn’t be smug about it. Competition is healthy and Android users in the UAE deserve to get access to apps just as Apple fans.

Magnus Nysted is Managing Editor of Shufflemagazine.com, Tech Lifestyle Magazine based in Dubai. With an aim to to educate, inform and entertain consumers, he reports on what’s happening in the world of tech, gadgets and gaming with a local and regional perspective. Follow him on twitter as @mnystedt.

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