Google has blocked access to paid Android applications to the very people who most likely would have vested interest in accessing them: developers using the officially-sanctioned unlocked G1. Google released the Developer version of the G1 back in December 2008, priced at $399, making it available to anybody willing to pay the $25 developers’ registration fee.
As well as being SIM unlocked, the Developer G1 is also hardware unlocked, giving access to the root folders usually off-limits to consumer G1 handsets. That’s where the paid-apps issue comes in: such applications are saved to a private folder on the G1, inaccessible to regular owners but not to developers, rather than encrypted with any sort of DRM. That would allow users to copy the files and store them elsewhere, take advantage of the 24hr refund policy in the Android Market, and then replace the files from the backup to use the software again. Google’s preventative stance appears to be based on the possibility that the Developer G1 could be used to spread pirated copies of paid-apps.
Bizarrely, though, it means that developers behind paid-apps are unable to even see their own software in the Market. Meanwhile, unofficially unlocked T-Mobile G1 handsets are capable both of browsing paid-apps and accessing their supposedly-private files. Google is yet to officially comment on the situation, aside from confirming that the change in policy was a recent one.