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Android Apps Hit 100,000, Developers Not Going Wild


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Just a week after Apple announced its app store cracked the 300,000 mark, Google revealed today that its Android marketplace is now offering more than 100,000 of the little programs. The disclosure, though, did little to quell grumblings from Android developers over the marketplace's operation. The revelation from Google was made without the fanfare surrounding the Apple announcement. "One hundred thousand apps in Android Market," it tweeted at AndroidDev.

Android developers have been slower to bring their programs to market than their Apple counterparts. While it has taken 20 months for the Android Marketplace to hit 100K, Apple's App Store did it in 16 months. That may not be surprising to some observers. Selling apps for Android hasn't had the monetary rewards selling them for Apple's mobile products has had for some developers.

One problem often cited about the Android Marketplace is its purchasing scheme. It uses Google Checkout. A more popular scheme like PayPal might be better suited to induce the kind of impulse purchasing that app sales thrive on. "Even as Android sales surge--Google says it is now activating around 200,000 phones a day--the market for Android apps still seems anemic compared with that for Apple and its thriving App Store," Jenna Wortham wrote in the New York Times yesterday.

Another rub for developers in the Android world is hardware diversity. Apple presents developers with a unified platform. What works on the iPhone works on the iPod Touch and the iPad. That's not the case with Android devices, which can vary depending on who is making the handset.

In addition, the association of "free" with Google isn't helping developers trying to turn a buck in the Android Marketplace. To make matters worse, the marketplace only sells paid apps in 32 countries--compared to 90 for Apple.

On the plus side, though, developers have more freedom to market Android apps. Apple has a rigid review process in place that can slow down the time-to-market for an app. In addition, it's easier to gain visibility in a 100K app universe than a 300K one. Moreover, Google is continually making improvements to the marketplace. For example, it now displays the price of apps in the currency of the buyer, not the seller, and it's planning to introduce a feature that allows purchases to be made within apps, which should make developing programs for Android even more worthwhile for software writers.

What may really spur app development, though, may be the crop of Android devices that are not phones. "The promise of Android goes beyond one device," Andy Rubin, vice president for engineering at Google told the Times,"We're going to see products running Android that no one has ever envisioned possible."

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