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I Want My Two Dollars!

January 26th, 2011 - 9:46 am

Android users aren’t app buyers, according to Forbes:

Google’s Android platform manager Eric Chu knows that though the number of Android smartphone users may be rising quickly, the number of purchases of paid apps in the Android Market is not doing nearly as well. In fact, Google is downright “not happy” about the purchases of paid apps, said Chu during a question-and-answer session with anxious app developers at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

And from Apple Insider:

The overall plan includes creating an in-app payments system like the one Apple created last year as part of iOS 4, enabling developers to sell episodic content or related virtual goods.

Google also hopes to negotiate carrier billing agreements with scores of regional mobile providers, allowing users to buy apps and bill them to their mobile account. Apple doesn’t need to do this because the iOS App Store in iTunes can bill users directly in most countries, far more than Google’s Android Marketplace.

Chu also wants to clean up Android Market, saying there is a team tasked with “weeding out apps that violate Android Market’s terms of service,” an indication that Google’s free-for-all market design is recognized to have serious drawbacks.

Apple trained iPhone buyers to pony up not-much money for pre-screened apps — much the way newspapers wished they had done with their readers when the web exploded in the ’90s. By the time the papers realized they needed to charge for content, readers were used to free, and for the most part refuse to pay.

It looks like Google has a similar problem with Android. Can they retrain users to buy stuff? Can they clean up the absolute mess that is the Android app-buying experience?

The problem is, Google doesn’t own the total Android experience, and different Android vendors have their own app stores, with not all apps available for all phones — even recent models. And it’s hard to see how Google can gain that kind of muscle over bunches of surly handset manufacturers and surlier wireless carriers.

Which leaves the question: Can Android app developers make enough money on the ad-revenue model to keep developing for Android? It hasn’t worked for the newspapers, but we’ll see.

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