Friday, April 6, 2012

Will it be a Scam? Part 2

This is an update on the "Green Button" app contest or "Apps for Energy" hosted by the Department of Energy. I was wondering if it would be a scam. So I have read through the rules. I imagine much of it is like other online contests I have seen, and they always read like scams to me. They are not really doing anything different than other contests except for one thing. The prize money is your tax dollars. They are literally playing games with your money!

So let me highlight some rules for the contest:
(g) Submission Rights: 
a) You must permit use of your Application by the public and DOE free of charge throughout the Competition and for 12 months following the announcement of the Competition winners; 
b) By submitting the Application to this Competition, you grant to DOE, and the other supporters a royalty-free license to: (i) post on your Submission(s) and a link to the downloadable Application in the online store of the applicable software platform (e.g., iTunes) or, if not distributed through such platform, to your website; and (ii) publicize the names of Competition participants (including the individual members of a team) and winners and their Applications through media and events of DOE’s choosing. Such license shall remain in force for the duration of the Competition and for a period of one year following the announcement of the Competition winners.
If you enter the contest you have to allow one year free use of your app. Many contests out on the web are like this and that is why I consider them scams. However, they are stating this in the rules, you know going in you are doing free work, so you are bending over and taking it for no money at all.

One of the odd things about the rules is that the DoE does not provide any server space. Each contestant must provide server space for their app for free for one year. Again, you are being told you must do this to enter the contest. So now each contestant has a fiscal responsibility for one year to provide something for free. I do know with iOs for apple products and the app store on iTunes is a $99 a year investment. I do not know what the cost is for android apps.
(g) Third Party Approval - Submissions requiring approval from a third party, such as an app store, in order to be accessible to the public, must be submitted to such third party or app store for review before the end of the Competition Submission Period. For any software platform that is not easily shared on the web before store approval, such as Apple iPhone, you may submit your working software app using a web framework designed for those platforms (such as PhoneGap), and provide the required link to a video of your working application. DOE may request access to the Application in person or via device UDID provisioning to verify any criteria or functionality of your Application.
All the app stores have just got to love this. I do not know how many people will participate in this contest, but the more that do, the more headaches for the app stores.
(i) No Previous Winners - Contestant may not submit an Application that is substantially similar to an Application that has previously been submitted by the Contestant to another contest and won a prize.
On the surface it sort of makes sense. But stop and think about it. If you have a proven app that is considered one of the best, the DoE does not want it or anything similar to it. Basically, instead of you agreeing to supply an award winning app and make it free to everyone for a year, keep it to yourself an sell it.

But if you have a mediocre app that could not win a contest, send it in!

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