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Google To Offer Paid Android Apps Soon

Being able to sell apps could make Android a more appealing platform for major developers like Electronic Arts.

Mobile application developers soon will be able to offer paid apps in the Android Market, according to Eric Chu, group marketing manager with Google's Android group.

Chu sent an e-mail to developers saying the payment option is on track for the first quarter of 2009, and that content creators will be able to target specific regions with different versions of the same app.

"Additionally, I would like to confirm that Android Market will support priced applications starting early Q1 2009, as we'd originally stated last fall," Chu wrote in an e-mail obtained by Android Authority. "Given the country-by-country work required to set up payment support for developers in different countries, we will enable priced app support in Q1 for developers operating in these countries in the following order: (1) United States and U.K.; (2) Germany, Austria and Netherlands; (3) France, Italy and Spain."

Being able to sell apps may make Google's operating system a more appealing platform for major developers like Electronic Arts. EA already sells Android games such as "Tetris" in mobile application store like Handango, but being able to get in the Android Market assures higher visibility.

The move could also help Android woo developers away from Apple's App Store. Google said it will exert very little control over what type of content gets in the Android Market, even if the apps compete with Google's own products. By contrast, Apple restricts developers from creating apps that duplicate functionalities of the iPhone, meaning a company cannot create a browser or music player for the iPhone 3G.

Additionally, Android is expected to power multiple handsets in 2009, potentially opening up a large audience for developers. But that diversity of hardware may also be a thorn in the side of developers, as it will add to compatibility testing because not every Android handset will have the same features or input method.

In the short term, developers probably will continue to be drawn to the App Store because users have already downloaded more than 300 million apps in about six months. While large companies will create content for as many platforms as possible, developers with smaller resources may focus on the App Store because it offers a potentially lucrative opportunity that may be too tempting to ignore.

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