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Google "Not Happy" About Android Market

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In an interview at the end of last year, Angry Birds developer Peter Vesterbacka explained why he preferred Apple over Android. He gave high praise to Cupertino, saying they "got so many things right," and they "know what they are doing and they call the shots." And although Vesterbacka lauded Android's growth, he criticized fragmentation of the ecosystem, meddling carriers, and the fact that "paid content just doesn't work on Android."

Vesterbacka has a point. Last year, a study concluded that iPhone and BlackBerry users are far more likely to pay for an app -- at 57% and 33% respectively. Only 16% of Android users were willing to shell out for a program. Analyst Dean Bubley called paid apps on the Android one of the Biggest Turkeys of 2011. He wrote:

"There's a strong correlation between a willingness to spend $$ on apps and willingness to give Steve Jobs $300 gross margin per device. Everyone else counts their pennies & will go for cheap/free wherever possible."

Although Android users are more likely to click on apps, developers who are looking for a profit from their hard work are giving Apple first dibs. And Google has taken notice.

At the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco this week, Android platform manager Eric Chu said he was "not happy" about the lack of paid app purchases in the Android Market. During the Q&A session, Chu said "Helping developers monetize is very important to us." And the company hopes to do this in a couple of ways.

First, an in-app payment system -- already overdue -- will be rolling out soon. For years, the iPhone has allowed users to make purchases within an app, as well as pay for upgraded versions of the app itself. In this respect, Google has fallen way behind. And with virtual goods still a hot commodity, the company needs to implement this fast to satisfy developers.

But an even greater need is for Google to establish carrier billing for paid apps.

Users would much rather a quick and easy method to pay for an app -- the easiest being the cost is automatically tacked on to the carrier's monthly bill. However, the Android Market requires a separate billing system, Google Checkout. Android owners unfamiliar with the service are actually seeking out a familiar middleman like PayPal in order to buy an app. Although a carrier billing system has been put in place with AT&T, Chu confessed that implementing the service with carriers is both expensive and time-consuming.

If Google wants sales of paid apps to blossom, it needs to have established carrier billing yesterday.

See also: The Power Behind Google's Throne - Shona Brown and Google Plans On Hiring 6,200 Employees This Year.
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