Mountain View (CA) – Google’s Android Market manager Eric Chu informed registered Android Market developers via email that paid applications are coming to some, but not all, Android Market segments by mid-January. He also mentioned that new European countries will be added to the Android Market this month, but stated that paid applications will arrive later, since it takes time set up local online payment solutions. He urged developers to take advantage of a new country targeting feature that enables them to hand-pick markets for their applications.
“I would like to confirm that Android Market will support priced applications starting early Q1 2009, as we’d originally stated last fall,” Chu wrote. He also announced a new country targeting feature of Android Market scheduled for a mid-January introduction on a dedicated Android Market publisher website. The new feature will allow developers to aim their applications at select countries.
Although most developers may find country targeting useful, it is generally annoying for users. For example, the Google Mobile App with voice support for the iPhone is still not available in most Eastern European markets on the App Store as a localization for small markets isn’t a priority for Google. Android Market is likely to suffer from the same problem. Chu noted that applications will not be automatically available in scheduled Android Market country additions unless developers choose the newly added countries as a publication target for their software.
The terms of the paid application feature remain the same: Google keeps 30% and hands the lion’s share to carriers. The launch of the paid applications feature will not be synchronized across all markets. The feature will first go live mid-January in the U.S. and UK, followed by Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain. Also, the launch will entirely miss some Android Market territories initially, because Google is struggling to co-ordinate its online payment systems on a country-by-county basis. As a result, the company will delay the paid applications launch in new territories where Android Market is set to become available with free downloads within two weeks, which includes Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and The Netherlands.
Some analysts believe that the arrival of paid application support in Android Market is long overdue since Apple’s App Store stole enjoys much of the spotlight and attracts tremendous support from developers. In November, Apple said users had downloaded more than 300 million applications from the App Store. More than 10,000 applications are available through Apple’s App Store.