In the past year the Android platform has exploded with a number of new smartphones and tablets launching as well as significant growth in the number of apps available in the Android Market. Despite its success, Google is "not happy" with lacklustre sales of paid apps in the Market, says Eric Chu, Android's platform manager. Speaking from the Inside Social Apps conference held in San Francisco earlier this week, Chu went on to give a very broad outline of Google's plan for the Android Market in 2011.

First and foremost for Android in the new year is the in-app payment system. This system will allow developers to  sell products and services from within the app as well as allowing users to pay for the apps themselves. According to Chu, the new payment platform will work on the majority of Android devices currently available in the market. He added that, "helping developers monetize" was an important goal for Android and this new payment system would be a significant step towards that goal. However, the launch of the in-app payment system was delayed because Google was unable to obtain the feedback of developers as they were too preoccupied with their Christmas applications.

Nevertheless, the in-app payment will launch soon and to assist users in making payments, Chu said that Google would be instituting billing arrangements with carriers, similar to the arrangement it already has with AT&T. Carrier billing would be the "lowest-friction models", however other methods of payment would also be utilised in the future.

In spite of Android's openness and general acceptance of apps of all colours and creeds, Chu said that there is actually a team at Android who deal with removing apps that violate the Market's terms of service. Additionally, he added that steps were being taken to implement better security measures that would ensure that malware could not infect your Android phone.

It is great to see that after Android's rapid growth, Google has decided to calm down and focus on the issues that have really been troubling consumers for quite some time. I am looking forward to 2011 and the improvements it will bring to the Android Market. I just hope that these improvements are global!

Credit: Forbes and TechCrunch

Abhiroop Basu
Abhiroop Basu is an opinionated tech and digital media blogger. As a doe-eyed twenty-something he started his first blog TechComet to comment on anything tech-related that caught his omniscient eye. Since then he has blogged for Android Police, Make Tech Easier, and This Green Machine. In the real world, Abhiroop Basu is a resident of Singapore and the Editor of The Digit, a subsidiary of The Potato Productions Group.

  • http://www.brandonvfletcher.com Brandon

    first change the return policy. It doesnt have to be 24 hrs. 15 mins i ridiculously short. One extreme to the next. 8-12 hrs is fine

    • David Ruddock

      Many developers have said they are willing to up the return time to 2 hours - however, many apps users only feel the need to use once (eg, ROM Manager Premium, Astro Premium) and then toss would still get thrown under the bus with anything longer than an hour return window.

      It's not fair to developers who have put in *huge* amounts of time perfecting their apps to simply have them returned because a user only needed the premium functionality for a couple of hours.

      What we have is still a hell of a lot better than Apple's App Store return policy - you have to notify Apple (if your reason for return fits into the App Store ToS, aka, it better be a good one) and hope they allow you to initiate a return.

      I know for a fact if you aren't happy with an app's functionality or if doesn't work for your device and you're past the 15 minutes window, a quick message to the developer on the app page or an e-mail would get you a refund if your reason for the return is legitimate (not "I don't need it anymore").

      Sorry, we here at AP have discussed the return window with some developers who are part of our staff - and I agree with them wholeheartedly that the 15 minute window isn't perfect, but 24 hours allows people to be screwed out of their labor on a consistent basis.

      • Westy

        Ehhh you can only return an app once. I cant believe that happens that often, i would need to see some statistics on that. Its not like you can keep returning an app. 15mins is not enough time. 6-12 hours should be the window. I am only more reluctant to purchase an app now because 15mins doesnt give me enough time to test it.

      • David Ruddock

        On a related note, in-app purchases should allow developers of "Premium" versions of their apps to circumvent the return window entirely - which is fine by me. An in-app purchase to unlock the additional features would presumably be refundable only at the discretion of the app's developer, with no opportunity for a market refund.

        I think this should negate a lot of debate about the return window, as many Android apps that are pay-only now will come out with "lite" or "demo" versions with in-app payment as an option to "unlock" all features.

      • http://www.brandonvfletcher.com Brandon

        that makes sense (im not a developer). There are alot of awesome develeopers out there and i dont have a problem paying for apps. But some of the more complex apps take me a while before I can officially say whether i like it or not. Maybe more free trial versions is the way to go. Like I said before, it doesnt have to be 24 hrs. At least more than 15 mins.

      • jason

        It’s not fair to developers who have put in *huge* amounts of time perfecting their apps to simply have them returned because a user only needed the premium functionality for a couple of hours.

        maybe they should just get rid of their free version? if i can try out the app, why do i need a free version? i expect it's more likely to just be cannibalizing their own sales.

        the worst thing for my sales of a simple app seemed to be when 2 free apps were added that generally did the same thing. i was getting 1-3 purchases/day and then it fell to maybe 1/week. i can't say for 100% certainty that it's causal as i don't have all the data, but it seems fairly likely.

        i was too worried about that app, but people will take a free app that mostly works over one that may be better but costs money. even if it is $1.

        i guess the main question is: what benefit is a developer truly getting from a free version?

        • http://www.wix.com/Gigitsu/Gigitsu/Home GigiAUT

          This is a problem with their payment implementation. Like I said in my comment below, I would love to buy apps because they're much better. Only problem is I can only pay with credit card and I don't have one. So now I have to settle on installing free apps.

          I think those devs make their money from advertisements, which is fair I guess. I'd prefer a paid app without the banner cluttering up my screen though.

          Also, some countries don't even have the option to pay for apps. Very stupid move if you ask me.

        • http://zalzalaweb.com/jens anakin78z

          I have a free and a paid app on the Market. The free one I get absolutely nothing from, other than a thank you e-mail here and there (which are always appreciated!).
          My paid app gets about 5% as many downloads as the free one does, which isn't really that great (the two apps are related, but not the same). For my next app, I plan to create a paid and ad supported version, to see how that works out.

          I do get a few returns on my paid app, but it's specific enough that most people know what they're doing when they buy it.
          I have noticed that a good number of people who cancel/return an app buy it again right after. I wonder if there's something odd & broken about returns, even if it's just an interface thing, that causes people to accidentally return apps, only to have to buy them again (and not being able to return it after).?

      • http://lavadip.com HRJ

        But there is a simpler solution to all this.

        Let the developer choose the refund time for their application.

        I am the developer of an app that is used for telescopes, and I am certain that my app can't be tried in less than 2 hours.

        Which now forces me to maintain two versions of my app (lite + full)

        • Coldman

          This is the solution to all woes. It's been mentioned many times but Google has remained silent about it.

    • jason

      totally agree. 15 minutes makes you think you need to rush to check it out. not to mention apps that may need longer to know if they're actually any good.

      4 things i'd like to see:

      1) all the stuff demo'd for the web based market at google i/o 2010. maybe they'll actually launch it at 2011, but it sure seemed like we were going to see it sooner.

      2) gift cards/coupon codes. a friend was talking about how much his kids spend with gift cards on the iphone. they get a $20 gift card for itunes and buy $1 apps without much thought at all. not to mention it doesn't require carrier billing or credit cards, etc. it seems to be already supported in google checkout so i don't understand why it isn't in the android market. you can't beat the advantage of being able to pickup an itunes gift card almost anywhere. having the existing itunes infrastructure already in place and popular was a huge win for apple.

      3) tie comments to app versions. if i fix a bug in a previous release that rating still counts even though it's no longer valid. although, who's going to judge that it's actually fixed?

      basically, look at itunes app store and start copying the good features.

  • scott edy

    I would think that this would put the price of apps up.. any thoughts?

  • http://www.slipshft.com Slipshft

    I am hesitant to buy anything that I cannot test first. 15 min. is not long enough, I would go for 12 hrs also. And I am much less likely to let the Carrier bill me anything, they have a hard enough time just getting my service bill correct, I can't imagine the problems I would have if they had to refund a purchase from the market.

  • Cem

    Google has to review its policy for restricting market access in certain countries.

  • http://www.wix.com/Gigitsu/Gigitsu/Home GigiAUT

    I think more of the paid apps should have a demo or LITE version at least, so you can try it out. I'm fine with a 2 hour return time, but if the demo version works, then I know the paid version will too.

    As for the sentence "Google is "not happy" with lacklustre sales of paid apps in the Market"....well if I had a dollar for every app I was able to buy...you get where I'm going. What happened to PayPay? Carrier billing outside the U.S.? I'd love to buy so many apps but there aren't any payment options available that suit me. The only 2 apps I have bought are Launcher Pro and Titanium, and only because they devs accept PayPal transfers on their site. Nothing to do with Market.

    Let's see that PayPal implementation as promised and some Carrier Billing in Europe, and then maybe your market will do a little better. I know I'm not the only one being held back from purchasing.

    • http://www.wix.com/Gigitsu/Gigitsu/Home GigiAUT

      Yeah I heard about that. They had already started talking about it in October last year I think, launch date was November 2nd according to the PayPal blog post, which was later pulled. Not sure if that was a mean practical joke or a mistake.

      Anyway, if they did implement it, I'm sure they'd sell a lot more apps.

  • SiliconAddict

    "Improvements Needed"

    No shit. I haven't purchased a single app since they went to 15 minutes. And frankly that should damn well be item #1 on the agenda. Next up searching. For company who started out doing searching the search functions and filtering in the market is a damn joke. My cat could cough up a better solution then what Google current has in place.

  • Pegger

    1. Allow PayPal to buy apps
    2. Use a methode like Apple, link account to credits, buy credits, use credits to buy apps
    3. sell cards in every store you can to top up your credits
    4. Remove all junk apps
    5. List apps beter to show to the customer
    6. Could aswell rework and revamp the whole market to make it more userfriendly :)

    • Coldman

      Remove all junk apps and remain an open Market? Don't think these can coexist. Filtering is the solution here.

  • http://www.appbrain.com/app/ultimate-inversion-full/biemann.android.ultimateinversionpaid Alexander Biemann

    I am a developer and I'd like to be able to get an opportunity to get some kind of publicity for my game.
    Because the Android Market is so vast it's easy for apps to become absorbed by the 'sponge' without getting any face-time.

    Androidpolice does an excellent job summarizing decent apps for the week (and I think Gizmodo does it too) - maybe Google should host some kind of reviews too.

    So far, I haven't recuperated the cost of signing up as a developer :-(
    I do find it weird that people will easily spend $2.00 on a cup of coffee but not $1.00 on a mobile app. Maybe Google can research that to find the answer.

    My next app will be completely free, but users will be able to subscribe on my upcoming website for enhanced functionality. I will use Paypal since they're worldwide (someone else pointed out that not everyone in the world has a MC/Visa - like in the US).

    Finally, I hope Google's new "in-app payment" system will let developers sell cheap in-game functionality. That means possibly pay to unlock levels, or pay to unlock weapons, etc.
    That way the binaries will remain the same but gamers will pay as they play... possibly through the use of credits so that Google can take their % cut in one swoop.

  • Casper

    I am very proud that the number of Android Apps continues to grow exponentially. However I must admit, since the recent update (incl. 15 minute window) I have shied from paid apps. I've been burned once already by testing an app and it took most of the 15 min window to download alone. Had a slow connection and the content d/l was huge. I have only purchased full versions that offer initial Lite versions for testing ever since.

    Sorry Dev's I want to support, but I cannot justify missing the window and wasting $3 here and $5 there for apps I very well may not ever use or like.

  • http://www.gunpowder-treason.com/ thorn

    I've given up on browsing the Market to find new and interesting apps, and instead rely on websites (such as this one) and scan the barcode.

    Better filtering is definitely needed... the "just released" tab is practically worthless, as there is little way to determine what might be a quality app to investigate, vs the 12,486th "HOT GIRLS COLLECTION" app in 25 different languages.

    • http://schpydurx.livejournal.com ProfessorTom

      Hey, you can never have too many "HOT GIRLS COLLECTION" apps!

  • juniorsgv

    how about better games... or filter to device games work? my first venture into android i used a samsung tablet and noticed all the varying reviews on different phones did/didn't work on. google reminds me on sony of not really listening to consumers and missing out on alot of sales opportunities.

  • http://singleclickcheckout.com John Loschky

    Much of this can be addressed by simply offering a lite version and utilizing any number of third part billing services. By utilizing third party billing solutions you (the developer) define the refund policy.

    John Loschky
    Single-Click Checkout
    (in-app payments for Android)