First, I think it’s very important to make clear that I certainly do not feel, think, assume or state that I am the first person who can say that Google Suspended My App Without Warning. According to the most recent stats, Google removed 700,000 apps alone(!!).
Google Suspended My App
Late Thursday evening, I got an email from Google saying that my app has been suspended (removed indefinitely) from the store for ‘linking to explicit content in app description’. I was given two options:
- Re-submit the app with a different package name and new name.
- Submit an appeal to reverse their decision.
I was obviously shocked because I knew for certain I didn’t link to anything, forget linking to explicit content. Now, I had to choose 1 of the 2 options presented to me. Choosing the 1st one meant Giving up:
- … all current users (paid & free)
- … the current progress
- … acquired current reviews/ratings
- … the existing store ranking
- And… Giving up against Google.
No way was I going to choose that. I submitted an appeal.
The next day …
I would be lying if I didn’t admit how frustrating it was that I couldn’t do anything about it – just had to fold my hands and sit and wait for their response. Half a day passed after which I received an email from them at 3:00PM. They had rejected my appeal. Their email contained specifics about what was wrong – my description mentioned the ability to search adult websites instantly. However what surprised me the most was that their email said they’ve rejected my appeal because the app description STILL violated their policy.
This got me mad. They work at Google – you expect them to be a bit more smart about these things. If I couldn’t edit the app description to fix what they flagged earlier, how do they expect it to be working during their ‘second review’?
I sent them another email explaining the situation again. I also took to Twitter to contact their support team. Now it became even more difficult – the waiting period again.
The Final Decision
What seems to be an effect of communicating with the Twitter team, my appeal was finally accepted and on Monday at 2:30PM all access to Snap Search was restored. I had to resubmit my app obviously, with the changes suggested by their team. Once I had done that, it was live again in 2 hours.
While I am thankful to them for understanding and giving another chance, the 3 days of torture I had to bear in between did leave me thinking about quite a few things.
What I did about this situation
This was a difficult situation to be in. Nobody would like to say ‘Google suspended my app’. However, it happened to me, and I had to make sure I won’t be affected by this as much next time.
- Provide update to users through an external URL if necessary
- Distribute on other platforms/stores as well (Amazon, Huawei, Samsung)
- Moved the app to its own publisher account.
- Add download links to all stores on the website
- Ability to turn on external modes of payment.
- Removed Adult Websites as options from inside the app. This was probably the biggest change I’ve done. This probably cuts a decently big part of my audience and potential subscribers. But it was worth it long term – at least it keeps the app safe from their evil review team.
Hopefully this has me prepared for such adverse circumstances. Now, I got to focus on growth again – get back the momentum lost because of those 3 days of disappearance. Looking forward is the way to go!