Android Market to open to any app Monday

The Android Market currently has about 50 applications, but that number should go up next week when Google opens the market to developers.

Starting on Monday, any developer will be able to register for $25 and upload their application to the market. The registration and fee will help make sure that “each developer is authenticated and responsible for their apps,” Google’s Eric Chu wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

The first phone running Google’s Android software, the G1, went on sale on Wednesday from T-Mobile in the U.S. It costs $180 with a two-year contract.

Unlike Apple’s iPhone App Store, Google’s Android Market doesn’t have any approval process for applications. Once developers register, they can begin offering their applications in the store without any further validation or approval, Chu said.

Some developers have criticized Apple’s application submission process, which can take several months. In addition, once a developer spends the time creating an application, Apple serves as a gatekeeper and can decide not to include it in the store.

For now, applications can only be offered to Android users free. But starting in the first quarter next year, developers will be able to sell their applications. They’ll get 70 percent of the revenue from each purchase. The rest goes to the carriers that offer the phones and to billing settlement fees, Chu said. Nothing goes to Google.

iPhone application developers also get 70 percent of the price of their application.

Applications already available in the Android Market store include those created by winners of a developer contest that Google sponsored.

A few new Android applications have begun appearing in the market over the past couple days, presumably made available through special arrangements Google made with the developers. They include one from MySpace, a mobile banking application from Bank of America and a T-Mobile Hotspot locater.

The Android Market includes a rating system where users can rate applications and comment on them. Google will highlight the applications with the best ratings and usage at the top of the market, although for now it has chosen which apps appear there.

Apple, which this week said it has already sold 10 million iPhones this year, reported that its App Store has supported 200 million downloads in around 100 days. Apple’s store launched with more than 500 applications in July.

Apple pioneered the concept of offering phone users a store accessible on the phone for downloading new applications. Others are now following suit. In addition to the Android Market for users of phones running Google’s software, BlackBerry users will also soon see a store on their phones where they can buy new applications. Historically, mobile users only rarely downloaded new applications, but that trend is changing mostly due to Apple’s easy-to-use store.

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