Mobile application developers in Australia can finally sell apps on the Android Market after Google opened its Checkout e-commerce platform to developers in 18 more nations.
Google mobile platform program manager Eric Chu made the announcement in a blog post overnight.
Android Market was an online app store built for mobile phones running the Android open-source operating system, an effort led by Google.
The first free Android apps were offered for sale in October, 2008; British and US developers were able to sell apps from the following February.
For Australian developers, it was a frustrating wait. Google was reportedly "working hard" on the delay in July.
Android developer James Purser was celebrating today but his frustration was evident.
"Google has been tardy in allowing developers from outside a very narrow range of countries to sell applications through the Android Marketplace," Purser wrote.
"Up until now this list has excluded nations such as Australia and Canada, two nations where you would think that Google would recognise the depth of potential developer support."
Purser told iTnews that early in the piece, he was told the delay was due to a lack of support for international merchants in Google's Checkout package.
His frustration was shared by Kelvin Lam, a mobile app developer at Sydney-based Creative Licence Digital.
Lam believed that Google had been "struggling to get Android Market up to scratch, with serious reliability issues and a poor user experience.
"I can only hope that they've wanted to at least improve the Market offering before rolling it out to a wider international audience," he said.
Lam said Creative Licence Digital - which originally developed apps for the iPhone - has been keen to get into the Android market for some time. The company looked at other mobile app stores for selling Android apps, but few could meet the scale Google could provide.
"Second-tier" app sellers like Handango "failed to achieve serious market penetration," he said.
Lam sensed the public was insecure about purchasing mobile apps from a web page rather than directly from within the phone.
"Apple's integrated approach, with iTunes and iPhone, is the favoured user experience. For us, Google replicating this with Android Market presents the only compelling sales channel for our [Android] apps."
The company has already queued two apps for approval - a 'Property Inspector' app for real estate agents and 'Wakey Wakey', Pamela Anderson's official alarm clock app. Both were released for the iPhone first. "Being the official (and most likely the only supported) marketplace from Google, users of [Android Market] feel that their transactions can be protected by an international enterprise as critical as Google," Lam said.
Fellow mobile app developer Tom Horn said he would begin porting his apps - one a multi-purpose glossary app and another a World War II history app - to Android as a matter of priority.
Android Market is "the starting point for marketing your apps," Horn told iTnews. "Having users find your app by searching on the device and then buying on the spot is a very powerful mechanism. It has to be that one click to buy on the mobile to really make money."
Lessons to be learned
Purser said there were lessons Google could learn from the delay.
"One thing I hope Google does take away from this exercise is the real need to communicate with your developers, not just about APIs and tools but about the business of the ecosystem you're building.
"If there are delays, tell people why (as much as you can).
"Staying silent only gives people the impression that you don't care."
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