Update on The Verge app

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UPDATE: I have not received any further response/complaint from The Verge. Considering I have resolved the complaints they submitted to Microsoft in last app update and received their commitment to support the app previously (as explained below), I have published the app again in store. If The Verge has any feedback or want to discuss anything, I welcome them to reach out to me. You have my commitment to work with you to make this app serve your readers in a way which works for everyone.

The Verge is one of my favorite tech news sites. There are always controversies around who likes which product or tech company but overall, The Verge seems on point most of the time. I read that site so much that I created an app for myself as their mobile site isn’t good. Later when I shared the app in The Verge reader community, a lot of folks liked the app and asked if I could add more features. Now, adding features and making an app worth using takes some serious efforts and commitment.

One thing I learned by watching apps come and go is that one shouldn’t develop an unofficial app unless the service has public APIs or you are partnering with the team who owns the service.

  • First, building a brand and service which people want to use takes your sweat and blood. As a 3rd party developer, you shouldn’t use someone else’s work to succeed.
  • Second, even if you don’t agree with the first point, you can, and you will, be forced to remove the app and your efforts will be wasted.

But if you are partnering, that is really a worthy gig. I absolutely loved working with the amazing team at Khan Academy to develop apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone

Considering these points, I reached out to the Vox Media (owner of The Verge) engineering team to see if they wanted to partner. They loved the app but after their internal discussion, they chose not to collaborate in any way. Their ask was to not use The Verge branding and they wouldn’t have problem with the app. I was bummed but fully respected their decision and started a thread in The Verge forums to get ideas on a new name.

In this same thread, Nilay confirmed that they love the app and want me to continue improving it. Not only that, this was repeated in their weekly verge cast video. As long as the app didn’t use their branding, they would fully support it. This thread has been removed from the forums now. In fact, The Verge has been removing or locking threads which discuss this app in their forums.

With that confirmation, I started adding features in the app. It took hundreds of hours from my weekends and nights but the results were very satisfying, just look at the reviews posted by users. With the most recent update which includes support for adding comments, app is at par with The Verge’s official apps on other platforms.

Yesterday, I received email from Microsoft Store team that The Verge has submitted content infringement complaint against the app for using their name and logo. This is something I had agreed to fix but didn’t change yet so I unpublished the app from store and updated the app to not use there branding. It seems the feature to include app signature while commenting also caused some frustration for the verge staff but they never reached out to me to resolve that or asked to remove the feature.

Once their reported issues were fixed, I reached out to Vox Media lawyer to make sure they are ok with the fixes I have made. They were happy to know that I had removed their branding but, surprisingly, also mentioned that they don’t want this app to distribute their copyrighted content. I explained that this app is like any other thousands of news reader apps which allow users to read content from sites. I am not taking their content and re-publishing or distributing it. They don’t seem to agree with it even though they mentioned that an app like Feedly is ok. How is my app different from Feddly, they don’t mention that. Why are they doing this, I don’t know. But agreeing to supporting the app and now pulling that support is beyond me. It has definitely caused a lot of stress for me.

I have again reached out to their lawyer as well as other folks in their leadership team. I am hoping to hear from them so that this can be resolved and app can be made available in store again. Technically, I have fixed the issues they complained about and I am free to publish the app until they submit another complaint. There is no point in cat and mouse game though so I want to resolve this issue before making the app available again.

By the way, the update with new name and logo is already visible in the store. You can check it out using the deep link as app is not available in search results or lists.

Feel free to chime-in in comments or on twitter if you have feedback or want to share your support.

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24 thoughts on “Update on The Verge app

  1. Congrats on your work, Anand. I’ve been using this app from almost day one and loved it from the start. It’s been great to see how the app has matured over time and I really hope everything works out; especially considering the amount of effort you’ve put into development recently.
    Cheers
    Lee

  2. You made an amazing app for a really cool website. I’m really sorry your app has been taken down and I hope the powers at Verge realize they’re hurting some avid readers and work with you to fix the issues in this app.

    Until then though have you thought about releasing a reader app focused on tech that looks and works in a similar fashion to this?

  3. So sorry to see this go. I only started reading the Verge because of your app! If your app goes, so does a reader of theirs.

    Along with the 6tin debacle these are the most frustrating times for Windows Phone users and devs. They try to will a hole where an app doesn’t exist because the company responsible for providing apps for their fans in that platform ARENT BOTHERED AND DONT THINK ITS WORTH THEIR TIME.

    And then when someone else, an indie, merely a fan of theirs, pours hundreds of hours of their life into a beautifully crafted app that they do not benefit financially from, they have the good sense to pull it. That’s just cold. Mean and cold.

    I know I’m only one guy, but as long as this problem exists, I’m never visiting The Verge again.m

  4. It’s really annoying that they are trying to take down a perfect app when they are not even trying to replace it with something official.

    Good luck and thanks for providing this nice app which I’m sure The Verge itself won’t be able to.

  5. I’m fairly certain that the key issue is simple: your app shows their content without showing their ads.
    I think they tolerated the app when it was just a passive way to consume content on The Verge, but when it became possible to log in and comment, they figured they needed to start getting money from it, especially with the comment signature functionality (which they must have viewed as spamming the comments.)
    My guess is they are currently formalizing a policy with regard to third-party apps, especially spelling out exactly what kind of behavior is permissible for logging in and commenting, and how and when ads should be displayed.

  6. Pingback: 3rd part WP8 Verge app pulled, this time possibly permanently | WMPoweruser

  7. “The Verge is one of my favorite tech news sites. ”

    I don’t know why. Their site is crap and the reviews are horrendously inconsistent and downright biased. The Verge is vehemently anti-Microsoft. Why they continue to buy ad space on The Verge is beyond me. Topolsky once called Windows poison.

    Microsoft should pull all of their advertising on their site and blacklist them from attending anymore Microsoft events.

    • There might be some truth to your point. My view is that these tech sites cover what’s saucy. What would generate traffic, it is business after all. They “hate” Microsoft because there is not much saucy Microsoft is producing now a days but they have to cover Microsoft given the world runs on Microsoft software. I like the verge for not what Topolsky thinks Windows is but for a lot of feature reporting they do. I also tend to agree with some of the technology reporters in general. I agree though, not everyone writing articles on that site is qualified as journalist.

  8. Verge is a total Microsoft haters …Anand, why do you want to waste your valuable time developing an app for those Suckers. All those jernos hate anything or everything of Microsoft.

    • Trust me, I have asked that very question myself so many times in last two days. When I first reached out to folks over there before building the app, my interactions went well. When they showed enthusiasm for me developing the app, I decided to build the app. There was no good option to read their site on Windows Phone so that nudged me as well.

      But now, I regret it as one of the biggest mistakes I have made. And I have made a few blunders.

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  10. The Verge has gone downhill in the last few months, which is consistent with your perceived change in behavior. They consistently close threads that disagree with their views even if they respect the Community Guidelines.

    I suggest you forget the Verge ever existed, because they aren’t worthy of a fanbase. A shame, but a company that doesn’t respect it’s readers, and whose editors even go as far as troll them in the forums (check the Meta Forum) isn’t worthy of our time.

    • Agree with you wholeheartedly. Now onwards, I am keeping the app in store to protect what I built and hold them accountable for what they committed to. And there is still a community who love and deserve the app.

      • You wrote befor that you developed this app for yourself and then you uploaded it for public.so it you still wanted to have good experience with verge shoud do further(if you wanted to) development and anonymously upload it on manual apk download sites.how they gonna sue some anonymous uploder from xyz website.

        This is just my opinion because i wanted this app so badly :p

  11. Anand,
    Your app is wonderful. Actually its so great that I never thought that it is an unofficial app!!! 😀

    i only just decided to find out the reason behind this name change and ended up on this link.
    Anyways, till now you have been struggling because you have been asserting YOUR interest, YOUR want , YOUR passion, YOUR hours gone into this and etc.
    that wont work. Why? Because it doesn’t appeal to their selfish money minded brains.

    so now i suggest send them a benefit/loss analysis from your developing this app. Send it to both the owners and lawyers. TELL them how wonderful this app has been and helped to showcase Verge to millions of windows phone users and how pulling this app will hurt THEIR interests. Talk in terms of what they want. Nobody is interested in what you want. Give them the scenario of ” if this app gets pulled out due to silly ….” and even offer to work officially with them. Change your pitch and watch them change their pitch. Its simple, really!
    You can always mail me if you need any help.
    Affection,
    Aseem

    • Aseem, I am so glad to see your response. My approach in all my communication and interaction with folks over there has been mostly the way propose it should be. More about how this is a good thing for them and community they are trying to build. After all, this wasn’t a business or product idea for me. And I am not saying this because you mentioned it here, I have full email communication log with them.

      And this is probably the biggest reason of my frustration in this whole episode that they have been so adamant about not even talking about working together, let alone actually working together. After trying time and time again, I have given up at this point and hoping they, at least, stand by their words and not raise demands which are morally, socially and professionally hypocritical and bullish.

    • I missed to add, your suggestion is golden regardless. If they send the takedown notice again, I’d make the proposals in open again on this blog addressing their owners. Sending them email has no value or hope for response. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  12. This Really sucks, any update whatsoever regarding the republishing of the app?….oh and BTW adding another news source ( even if it is in a cheese way) wouldn’t technically make your app aply for re-publishing ?
    As always thanks in advance.
    Best regars
    Lucas
    PS (excuse my poor english its not my native language )

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