Google Opens Android Store to Paid Apps

Developers of Android applications finally will be able to charge consumers for them, ending a few months of free Android downloads and potentially making Google's mobile platform more attractive to developers.

U.S. and U.K. developers can now go to the Android publisher Web site and upload their applications along with consumer pricing. Paid applications will go on sale in the U.S. starting in the middle of next week and in additional countries in the coming months, Google's Eric Chu wrote in a blog post Friday.

The Android Market launched in October when the first phone based on the platform went on sale. But until now, it hasn't had any checkout or payment system, so application publishers have only been able to offer free software. Google had said it would start allowing sales early this year.

The post did not indicate how much the applications might cost, saying only that developers would be able to "upload their application(s) along with end-user pricing." Unlike on the App Store for Apple's iPhone, developers don't need to get their products approved by Google or by service providers. All they have to do is register for US$25 and upload their apps.

The payment and billing tool for Android Market will be Google Checkout. That platform, launched in 2006, allows payment through major credit cards and lets users save their payment information on the site.

Later this quarter, developers in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, France and Spain will be able to offer paid applications, and by the end of the quarter, additional countries will be announced, Chu wrote.

Also on Friday, Chu wrote that Android Market for free applications will become available to phone users in Australia beginning Sunday, Pacific time. Singapore users will get access in the coming weeks.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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