Over the weekend it suddenly came to the attention of LAPTOP magazine that Augen, the company behind the bargain-priced GenTouch78 Android tablet, was using the Android Market and other core Google apps without the big G's blessing. Besides the lukewarm reviews the GenTouch has been receiving around the web, Augen now has to deal with the embarrassment of being caught red-handed while peddling their "bootleg" software in a major retailer across the US.
In a follow-up response to the original story, Augen CEO Gary Gofman tried to deflect some of the blame towards Google, but ultimately claimed the inclusion of the Google Mobile Services Application Suite was an oversight that shouldn't have happened. He went on to say that all future shipments will have the apps in question removed until an agreement can be reached with Google.
Even more interesting is the fact that just about every Chinese Android tablet out there uses the same basic Android 1.6 firmware with bundled apps, and it's very evident once you examine the screenshots and read through forums such as those over at Slatedroid, but only Augen has been singled out because of their distribution here in the US. My EKEN M001 7-inch that I purchased for $99 from DealExtreme a few months ago has the same Google apps as the GenTouch78, including the Android Market, but it's almost unusable due to the hoops that must be jumped through to download apps. Each time the Market is launched, it won't start downloads without first clearing the data and cache in 'Google Apps' and 'Market'. Once this is done, all Google user login info must be setup once again, and then maybe a few downloads will work, but in the meantime, 8-10 "phantom" downloads will start on their own, as if being remote controlled from elsewhere.
Google should really clamp down harder on unauthorized use of their core apps, because it might lead to a bitter taste of the Android experience for many new users, especially those who are interested in a sub-$300 tablet instead of a smartphone.