We get a lot of tips and leaks in our [email protected] email (which I encourage you to use if you want to alert us of any unreleased news). Some of these leaks are pure conjectures, some make sense but have no foundation or proof, and some… some sound pretty credible.

Today, we have one of those leaks, and even though there is no proof that this information is true, I have reasons to believe that what the source is saying is not a lie.

The Leak

In 2 days, on May 19th-20th, the long-awaited Google I/O conference is going to be commencing in San Francisco, with all kinds of announcements about the future of Android expected, such as the details of Android 2.2 FroYo, Flash 10.1 on Android, FroYo speed improvements, wireless tethering, and Android Market updates.

We've already talked about and provided exclusive screenshots of the upcoming WiFi hotspot feature and broke the news about FroYo speed boosts, but we haven't yet spent any time talking about the Market.

Today's leak, however, is not even about the next version of the Market that we'll see in Froyo.

It is about the generation of the Market after that, the one Google has only started planning.

Next-Next Gen Android Market

We received a tip that Google conducted a meticulous multi-stage focus group study, for the final round of which it selected a small number of participants - around 16 - and flew them to the Googleplex or a similar Google-owned central location.

The participants were asked a series of Android Market related questions, some of which you will see below. While a focus group is surely not proof of actual upcoming features, the bullet points below make quite a bit of sense and could serve as an indication of where Google *might* take the Market. Again, take everything with a grain of salt.

Here we go:

  • 7 day journal of app use habits including what we installed/uninstalled, how many times we went to the market, what categories we looked at, what apps we used and where we learned about apps (market, websites, etc) this was done every day for 7 days.
  • After 7 days, roughly 16 people were chosen for interviews at Google.
  • Asked about future features and how interested we would be in them. Spent a lot of time on social integration such as twitter, facebook.
  • Asked/talked about Guru/expert ranks for some developers on the market
  • Asked about Following/favoriting developers on the market
  • Asked about developer bios on the market which would include links to their site, twitter, whatever
  • Asked about app recommending such as a feature to recommend apps you like to friends via the market
  • A whole lot about social networking/integration
  • Asked about filters for searching within the market including searching using variable like a certain rank or higher
  • Asked/talked about developer responding to comments
  • No time line mentioned. Could be this market update could be after it.

Let's Summarize

So there you have it, folks.

It looks like the big ticket items are, in the order I think is the most interesting:

  • an ability for developers to leave replies to comments
  • developer expert status, perhaps global ranking
  • better app filtering - we've been asking for this for ages
  • following developers and getting notified of new applications created by them
  • recommending apps to friends - this is kind of reminiscent of the HTC Wildfire announced today

I have good reasons to believe we won't be seeing these features in the next Market release, so don't get your hopes up too high if some of them stroke a cord with you. Only time will tell how accurate the results of this focus group have been.

Which feature am I excited to see the most? Better commenting on apps. The current situation with only being able to leave a single comment per app, without an ability to track responses to it, or even simply properly respond to someone else's comment is simply unacceptable. I hope there is some truth to what the rumor had to say regarding commenting, and then some.

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