It seems to me that they created the bug reporting system and then put nobody in charge of monitoring it or maintaining it and most likely no one has authority to even respond to half these bugs, except top people like Romain Guy who consider it beneath them. This is really burning a lot of good will in some of Google and Android's most enthusiastic supporters.
They really could use a good, thorough, old fashioned bug scrub with QA and maintenance teams heavily involved/leading the charge. Cleaning up the bug database is a daunting no-fun task, for sure, but it looks terrible to outsiders and bug triage is a perfect place for new employees (junior developers, QA, and support staff) to get their feet wet while they still lack the emotional attachment...it's the perfect bootcamp.
The stats on this would be fascinating, too - for instance, I'd love to know the percentage of dupes. :)
Conversely, making senior developers responsible for triaging bugs straight from the public (and doing first line support for some of these, which does appear to happen from time to time) can lead to some serious burnout.
I haven't seen much data myself on these kind of comparisons, so I'm quite curious.
We've had in-app billing in place since mid-April. The income is helpful as any income is, but so far income from in-app purchases does not outstrip customer support and server costs (we do our own support, so factor in that for a small startup, you could be actually developing new features and improving the product vs. answering questions, handling refunds, having to dance like a marionette to get someone at Google to look at a critical billing bug).
Luckily, we do have an iOS app as well to subsidize the Android side of the house...but money doesn't buy time in this market, unfortunately.
Our cancellation rate is 20%. That is, for every 100 purchases, there are 20 cancellations for various reasons.
We suspected this outcome going into it, so this was not really a big deal to us - any offset to the support and maintenance costs is a boon, in our opinion, and keeping our users happy is important - Android users were bummed about missing the extra features, so we made it so.
We had a few hitches right out of the box with purchases getting lost (https://code.google.com/p/marketbilling/issues/detail?id=14), but we're able to help users around that if we're lucky enough that they contact us about it.
For the past week, however (right before the June 15th maintenance), Android Market isn't sending purchase status back to a subset of users, resulting in users paying multiple times for products that never get delivered (https://code.google.com/p/marketbilling/issues/detail?id=32).
So our revenues are going up! Except they're not, and I'm spending two hours a day dealing with angry customers who think we're thieves and ferreting through the Merchant Center trying to pre-emptively catch these broken transactions before a customer sees they were charged $20 bucks for a $1.99 feature because they didn't think the purchase took. Some of them I won't be able to catch unless they contact us, as it's not uncommon for people to use multiple credit cards with different names on them.
The fact that it's nearly impossible to get Google's attention on this is incredibly distressing. I've commented on bugs, reported it multiple times to the Merchant Center (our case has been forwarded "to a specialist"), reported it via the Market Publisher site form, posted a forum message...why is it so hard to get Google's attention on something like this? Don't their fancy algorithms pick up on the fact that in-app revenue has jumped up across the board? It's one thing that users aren't able to purchase (that sucks), but an entirely different thing if users are able to purchase 20 times, but never get what they paid for.
To be honest, in-apps really aren't seeming very worth the risk. I am hoping they work to change this, but it seems pretty bleak right now.
Are you losing users, or do users understand after they contact you? Just curious if you're bleeding customers because of Google's problems. At some point, if Google doesn't fix this, I assume this is going to make you rollback your in-app purchases.
The real problem are the users that never contact us about it and just leave negative reviews...it's super common for users to leave angry reviews, but never contact you to give you a chance to fix it and there's no way to tie a review to a customer, I guess I could contact every "Ashley" that attempted a purchase in the last week...
What's also really odd is that I'm not hearing back from anyone that I pre-emptively refunded. We do have to pay transaction fees for refunds, not sure how/if/whether Google will do anything about this. Likely the large number of refunds will bot-flag us as a "bad app." Oy.