Last week we brought you news that a Siri clone, Speerit, had appeared in the Android App Market. Speerit is actually one of several apps promising users the same functionality as the iPhone 4S’s Siri on their Android devices. While Speerit is still available (for now, at least), another of the apps - “Siri for Android” - was pulled from the App Market over the weekend.
The removal of Siri for Android instead of Speerit is interesting: while Siri for Android clearly infringes on Apple’s intellectual property with its name, Speerit does so in pretty much every other respect. The app’s icon, as well as several other icons within the app, are all stolen from Apple, and the app’s description calls it “REAL Siri for Android.” The highly selective nature of this takedown illustrates Google’s tendency to refrain from policing its App Market except in response to specific complaints. Since no one has apparently complained about Speerit, it stays up, despite being possibly the worst of the bunch for infringing on Apple’s trademarks.
It puts an interesting wrinkle in the perennial iOS-Android debate over whether a closed or open system is better. Many criticize the closed nature of Apple’s App Store as stifling innovation, and for its occasionally arbitrary decisions about which apps are allowed in and which aren’t. The far more open model of the Android App Market, the argument goes, is far more developer-friendly. On the other hand, we have situations like this: the open(-ish) App Market model allows for rampant copyright infringement (and even malware, on occasion), something that Apple’s model makes all but impossible.