Update on Pokédroid

I’m still getting lots of comments and emails about Pokédroid, which was taken down from the Android Market last month due to a DMCA notice from The Pokémon Company. (See these posts.) Most of my blog traffic still seems to come from Pokédroid-related searches, which is not surprising given the more limited appeal of my other apps. (What – you guys aren’t as excited about my system log reader?) So I thought I’d do a little round-up of the commentary on Pokédroid and get everyone up to speed on where the app currently stands.

Tim Oliver, the developer of iPokédex, informs us that the app removal process for iPhone Pokédexes has now begun. The timing seems about right, given that the TPC lawyer I spoke to said that Apple’s process takes a bit longer than Google’s. Tim and other iOS developers are in talks with TPC right now, but if their experience is anything like mine, we can expect iPhone apps to be removed shortly.

None of this should be surprising, given that TPC is now venturing into territory previously occupied by fan developers. The recently released Pokédex 3D app for 3DS, although not a true strategy guide like Pokédroid, makes it clear why TPC would start to view fan-made apps as unwanted competition. The rhythm-action Pokémon games coming to Android and iPhone make this point even less ambiguously.

Liam Pomfret, the head of Bulbagarden, has been my most helpful contact point throughout this whole process, and he has an interesting editorial on Bulbanews laying out TPC’s case for taking down Pokédex apps. It’s very persuasive, and if nothing else it splashes some cold water on the impulsively negative fan reaction. He points out that all fan-made media (including Bulbagarden itself) is in violation of TPC’s copyrights, and so TPC is within its legal rights to selectively allow or disallow whatever content it wants. It’s debatable whether or not taking down Pokédex apps is actually in TPC’s own self-interest (I’ve argued it’s not), but the legal case is pretty difficult to dispute.

And in fact, even if Pokédex developers like myself did have a good case, we probably wouldn’t be doing ourselves any favors by taking it up in court. Recently there was the case of the Miles Davis afficionado who ended up paying $30,000 for a copyrighted photo he used in a tribute album. This was without any admission of guilt, and despite the fact that his lawyers thought they would have had a decent case if they had actually pursued it. The $30,000 settlement was simply the least expensive option available to him.

Now this may surprise you, but Pokédroid, as a hobby app, is not worth $30,000 to me. And if you think I could just get 30,000 of my 150,000 active users to each chip in a buck and cover my legal expenses, then you’ve never developed a mobile app before.

This is why I’ve rejected requests to open-source Pokédroid. As Liam pointed out above, open-source licenses still presume ownership of the IP content in the code, which means I’d be making myself a legal target just by publishing the code base. Even though I’m a die-hard Linux user who loves open-source, I have to admit that this isn’t really the time or place for it.

Anyway, I’ve been on good terms with TPC so far, so I have no incentive to do anything to try and spite them. Everyone I’ve spoken to at TPC has been very courteous and respectful towards me, and they’ve taken obvious care to explain their point of view and avoid any misunderstandings. They’ve even mentioned reading my blog posts (hullo out there!), so they’ve obviously got their finger on the pulse of the fanbase, and aren’t acting hastily or thoughtlessly.

My hope right now is just that they will offer to license Pokédroid or rebrand it as an official Pokémon app. In my ideal world, they would also let me open-source it, possibly in exchange for my help with the rebranding process. That way, I could gracefully hand the reins over to other fan developers (who would probably be more hardcore Pokémaniacs than me, and thus more diligent contributors), but the app would still remain an officially licensed product. TPC could continue to disallow unofficial apps on the Android Market if they wanted, but anybody would be able to contribute to the official app. The same community involvement that made Bulbapedia strong could make Pokédroid the best Pokémon resource on any mobile platform.

Admittedly, this scenario is a little starry-eyed. But even if TPC wasn’t keen on the open-source idea, I still have 19,000 lines of code that could save them a ton of time if they decided to build their own Android Pokédex app. Hopefully they’ll take me up on my offer, so that Pokédroid can get back in the Market, and back in the hands of the fans who find it so useful.

30 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for the mention! I hadn’t heard back from you in quite some time and was about to contact you again. Let me know if TPC ever decides that you can open-source it.

    Along the lines of Liam’s proposed “tethering issue,” why not talk to TPC about offering an online version of the Pokedex? Honestly I think it’d placate the community a whole lot more if it was a mobile-friendly web application. There could even be areas to do market research such as facebook like buttons, choose your favorite pokemon, etc. Corporations like TPC love free user input and this allows them to jack into that phrase causing all the buzz, “social networks.”

    On another note, the link to Liam’s post was since moved here. I guess his post was still fresh too?

    Reply

    • The problem with turning it into a webapp is that I’d basically have to rewrite it from scratch. Also, I’m not a web developer…

      Anyway, the whole advantage of an app like Pokédroid is that it’s faster than a webapp, and it works even when you don’t have a data connection. The kind of web-based social experience you’re describing sounds like something that’s more the territory of the Bulbapedias, the Serebiis, etc.

      By the way, I fixed the link. Thanks for the heads-up. :)

      Reply

      • Fair points, but not what I was focusing on. I meant that this is a perfect way for TPC to branch out a little and get in touch with its fan base. If *they* create a web app version of the pokedex, ties to social networks, it would undoubtedly ease the pokefans’ anger while also having a great marketing research opportunity on their own server! Perhaps I missed the point of Bulbapedia and Serebii, but I thought they were wikis directed more toward the pokemon fanatic than the average fan.

        A lot of my friends remember playing pokemon or watching the show when they were little, but no longer do so for one reason or another. Most of these friends, who happen to also have Android phones, were part of the Pokedroid user-base, but shied away from Bulbapedia and Serebii. This shows they would like something user-friendly to peruse, and that the previous sites are too complicated for simple pokedex browsing.

        Final note, I’ve found that pairing Wapedia with Bulbapedia is a decent substitute to pokedroid, but still not the same.

  2. Hehe cheers for the mention Nolan! ^_^

    Yeah, given TPC’s new foray into iOS and Android with the music game app, I wonder if there are machinations for an official Pokédex app in the works there.

    That being said, I think licensing a fan-made one would be much better than trying to make an official one from scratch. Fan-made ones will always be more in-tune with what the fans want and usually have more love put into them. ^_^

    But then again, there’s a slim chance I may be slightly biased in that regard. XD

    In any case, I really hope we can work something out that everyone can be happy with. It’s obvious that there’s a huge demand for these kinds of apps (Japan especially XD).

    All the best of luck man!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Olaf15 on July 15, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    I have been browsing file sharing sites for WEEKS now, and i guess ill need to live without pokedroid for now *shiver*

    Reply

    • I’m pretty sure I make mention of where I got mine on my blog, referenced above. If not, let me know and I’ll try to get the information to you.


      “Can’t stop the feed!”

      Reply

    • I was able to update from 1.4.9 to 1.5.2 after I uninstalled the android market updates to test something.

      Reply

  4. Just a heads up to others. I have (not personally) seen earlier examples of “fair-use” games/apps/remakes that are allowed to exist, silently , with a large user base. The “word” is that once you (or anyone else) mentions it for the owners formally (asking permission) they must give a notice of cease and desist.

    The reason is, that as long as they, formally, don’t know of it, they an ignore it. If they give permission, if only by not denying the “un-licensed” product, it is much harder to deny other works later, or remove yours one they want to pursue the market themselves.

    Or shorter. If you don’t ask, they might let you continue. If you ask, they will have to stop you (to protect their own interest). So usually – ask before you begin, or don’t ask at all (and risk getting stopped when it gets good anyway). You might get lucky with a licensing, but probably not a big chance.

    This (keeping silent) would probably not have worked in this case, as they were already shutting stuff down.

    This is related to other stuff, too… Selling “funny” JarJar Binks t-shirts (this might actually be fair-use / parody – what do I know), or other derivate works is turned a blind eye to – but I’m pretty sure ThinkGeek.com makes sure their licensing deals are ok before putting their stuff on the market, them being big and all.

    This has happened before, and will happen again. :-/

    Disclaimer: I’m no lawyer – consider the above hear-say and speculation and you (all) can’t hold me accountable for any effect it will have on anything you do.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Chris K. on July 18, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    I was very sad to hear (as I’m sure every user of Pokédroid was) that Pokédriod was going to be taken down. I used it multiple times daily and it was much more helpful (in my own opinion) than any other Pokédex guide TPC has ever released. I truly hope that something will happen in the near future that will allow Pokédroid and other applications like it to be put back up, possibly as you mentioned with TPC making it an official app. I wish you the best of luck in all aspects either way and thank you so much for what you provided to the Pokémon fans.

    Reply

  6. I still use PokeDroid even thought it has been taken off from the Android market. I had to search all over the web just to find the latest version you have. I have used it many times and it really helped out a lot. Really hate the fact that TPC demanding you to take it down because it would ‘impede on us selling our strategic guides’. This might be true but,your app doesn’t tell you how to find the legendary Pokemon or finding any rare items. I would hope TPC makes the app and official app. I mean, it has such potential and they haven’t even put a finger in the mobile app market at all. So,why not make a official PokeDex for iOS,Android, and Windows phone 7. I’m still going to be a fan of this app. (even during the down time)

    Reply

  7. Posted by joseph on July 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    the main problem i have a problem with situation is because lego doesn’t have a problem with it. bzp is a fan site for bionicle and we throw around copy rited material like there’s no tomorrow and they are fully aware of our existence, some employees are even on the site!

    and my dad said that technically if they don’t offer what your making that copy rite may not apply. makes sense to me, its like free advertising.

    Reply

  8. Thanks for the great app Nolan. I have this and the one for the iPhone. I would love to see TPC release an official app with you and Tim at the helm.

    I always liked on the iPhone app the ability to limit the dex to just the national dexes or the entire dex.

    Keep up the good work.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Richard on August 7, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    hi Nolan.i am a Chinese pokemon lover.and i like your app for pokemon.it’s the most perfect app i have seen.it’s really a pity unable to get the update from android market.and i failed to find the other site to download the latest version.would you please mail me the latest version.thank you very much!

    Reply

    • Given the nature of this article, I doubt Nolan would give you the app since TPC could sue him for continuing to infringe on their copyright. I do however know of a page on reddit where you can get the latest copy… *cough*

      Reply

      • Posted by Richard on August 10, 2011 at 8:57 PM

        Thank you foir your help.
        however i couldn’t find the download link
        in the site you provided.

      • You really can’t find the link? I found the apk without the link and there was a direct link provided for you!

        I also posted a work around that has worked for myself and two others.

      • @Erin: Care to randomly post a link to your blog, that may or may not pertain to the aforementioned workaround?

      • I replied in a new thread, this is the most I’ve ever used/visited a blog. I uninstalled the newest market update and it allowed an update from 1.4.x to 1.5.2

  10. I posted it here, are post threads up the way. I uninstalled the newest market update and was able to update from 1.4.x to 1.5.2

    Reply

  11. Posted by Nicole C on August 15, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    I’m sad to hear that pokedroid will be taken down. I used it quite often for my games. It was super handy. I’ve never bought or used a TPC or nintendo dex as they’ve never been quite as helpful as a fan made one.

    Reply

  12. The only way to get the pokedroid now is searching the torrent sites
    Sometime they may be useful

    Reply

  13. Posted by otakun on October 11, 2011 at 6:26 AM

    Until the last three or so most recent guides, I’ve had pretty much everything Pokemon reated, and this app has always been the best for what it did. I hate to see it go, but doesn’t seem there’s any choice. It was good while it was around, and it’ll likely be one of the few apks I’ll be including in all of my android systems. And on that note I’m even more annoyed about losing root on my xoom. Now I can’t use titanium backup or anything like that, so I’ve got to do everything manually.

    Reply

  14. Posted by sammy on October 18, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    I am so sad about this…
    I always used this app almost everyday, figuring out what Pokemon type beats what.
    Always kept forgetting what steel, normal and ground types were good/bad against ;u;

    Argh.
    And I just got a new phone today because my old one wasn’t working and I kept looking everywhere for the app and this really saddens me that its gone now.

    Thank you very much for this app back then

    Reply

    • Posted by simonhemingway on November 14, 2011 at 10:44 PM

      Yo if you get Androzip you can backup your apps. Saves time if youre changing phones. That goes for any app.

      Reply

  15. Posted by negative93 on October 19, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    wow.
    I really enjoyed and still enjoying using this app. even though not in market anymore it seems that still a lot of people looks for it.
    it’s a shame that TPC seems to cut legs off of pokemon fans that spent time coding apps for other pokemon fans… and 19000 lines of codes are not something that you write in just a night…
    and coding this just for the fun of other fans and not for lucrative ends even qualifies you more of a pokemon fan than the TPC …

    hope that this will end soon and have a good result

    Reply

  16. Posted by Roland on January 12, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    hey Nolan Lawson I have been trying to track you down and finally!. no I’m not a hot shot lawyer who will fight for you but a simple fan who removed your app from my phone thinking that I’ll get it back anytime and BOOM!! could I have the app just for personal use? well you have my email address please consider.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Kyle Thompson on February 23, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    This is gonna seem weird, but i can still download the pokedex and the extras from the market. i cant even see it if i search for it, but i was going through the new market interface on my pc and it came up as previously installed. i hit install, and chose my phone and it WORKED. i can provide you some screenshots if need be. just found this interesting

    Reply

  18. […] Must-Have für echte Fans.Die Story dahinter finde ich recht interessant, die kann man auch direkt auf dem Blog des Entwicklers nachlesen. Die Argumentation ist doch etwas heavy, so wie auch die unhandlichen, gedruckten […]

    Reply

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