About two months ago, the Google Play Store stopped working for residents of Curacao. Well, it didn’t stop working for every Android device owner, but many people were experiencing issues while trying to access the market.
Users started reporting their problems in this thread and it was quickly clear that it didn’t have to with a particular type of device or the provider – UTS, Flow and Digicel users were all reporting that the Play Store was not accessible.
At the time when these issues started, I had just purchased a new Samsung Galaxy phone in the Netherlands. The Play Store obviously worked while in Europe and when I arrived on Curacao 10 days later, Google Play was working without any problems.
My Galaxy Tab however was a different story. Play Store was not available on the tablet, but I could open the marketplace from the web browser on my laptop, which was weird to say the least. A quick poll on Facebook showed that the device and the provider really didn’t matter, but an answer or solution was still miles away.
What could be causing this problem?
Speculation started to go around that Google blocked Curacao and that it has to do with our move from “Netherlands Antilles” to “independent country” Curacao. The fact that some Sint Maarten residents were also experiencing the same problem made this theory sound pretty plausible.
Then, a few days ago, UTS head man and Android user Paul de Geus chimed in with thoughts. In an interview with the Amigoe, De Geus said the following…
Het probleem ligt niet bij ons en wij kunnen er niets tegen doen. Het heeft met rechten te maken. Blijkbaar hebben wij hier op Curaçao geen rechten op de apps die in de app store worden verkocht. Wij hebben daardoor op dit moment geen toegang tot de store. Wat wij wel kunnen doen is contact opnemen met Google Android om na te gaan wat er aan de hand is en of wij kunnen overleggen om te kijken of wij misschien tot een deal kunnen komen.
So according to UTS, we don’t have rights to access the apps. Google however says otherwise….
We are currently aware of this problem with Android apps on Google Play and are trying to resolve it. This complex issue involves several areas of the Google Play Store app and is not an easy fix, so I don’t have a good estimate on how long it will take us to resolve it. As soon as I have any updates, I’ll be the first to let you know.
I really appreciate you taking the time to let us know about the details of your specific case; each time we hear more details, it helps us make a better solution. I hope that despite this, you will keep using the Google Play Store app and keep sending us valuable feedback when things don’t go as expected.
If we’re to believe Google, it doesn’t have anything to do with rights or being blocked or blacklisted, but it’s just…complicated…
That’s great and all, but how can I access Google Play again?
Various users were starting to get around the issue by using Proxy servers and VPN connections. I mean, we have to do something while Google tries to figure this thing out, right?
ProxMate was emailed to me by various users and it works like a charm. Just start by visiting the site and downloading and installing the Firefox or Chrome add-on.
Once the add-on has been installed and activated, you should see a highlighted ProxyMate icon in your list of add-ons.
You should be able to access the Play Store now from your browser.
If the app you are looking for is compatible with your Android device (and available for Curacao), you can click the “Install” button and the app will automatically be downloaded and installed on your device, granted that it’s synched with your Google account.
Hotspot Shield VPN for Android
If you want to be able to access the app market from your Android device, you can also install Hotspot Shield VPN for Android. This will also allow you to download apps that regularly may not be available for residents of Curacao.
Make sure that you change your settings to allow installation of non-Market applications, or else the app will not install.
You can now review the app permissions and install the VPN.
Once the VPN app has been installed, you can click “Start protection” to start the service.
You should be connected to the VPN within a few seconds. If you are getting errors, make sure to check if your device is set to allow VPN connections.
With the VPN app running, you can now access the Google Play Store.
Once you accept the terms, you will be ready to go!
Let us know if you have another way to get around the restrictions or if you experience issues with ProxMate or Hotspot Shield. The more information we can gather, the better.
Reader Francis reports that he’s being redirected to Google Jamaica (google.com.jm) on his Digicel device and that the Play Store is working for him without any proxies or VPNs. No such luck for me on the UTS network….