Google’s Android platform has been positioned as the major competitor to the iPhone and last Friday's announcement that paid applications can now be submitted to the Android Market moves the platform one step closer to parity with the iPhone.
Prior to this, only free applications had been available on the market, meaning that many professional developers had not been creating projects for the platform. Google is accepting applications from developers in 147 countries, but paid applications can currently only be purchased in the U.S. and U.K. Free applications can be downloaded in those countries as well as six others, and more countries are said to be on the way.
The existence of the Android Market could help force Apple to improve its own App Store, especially in terms of the at-times inscrutable approval process. Google has published a list of restrictions on applications, which includes both content (no pornography or illegal content) as well as technology (no harmful applications, and no programs that “knowingly” violate carriers’ terms of service).
One way the Android Market won’t differ from the App Store is in Google’s cut: the company says that it will take 30 percent of the purchase price of an application as a transaction free—that’s the same as Apple’s margin on the App Store.
Prices for Android applications will vary from 99 cents to $200 in the U.S. and 50 pence to £100 in the U.K. All transactions will be processed through Google’s Checkout service; users also have 24 hours to return an application for a full refund (Google will return the full transaction free to the vendor in that case).
The Android Market will need to attract substantial developer support if it hopes to attain the same heights as the App Store, and paid applications is one step in that direction.