Google markets Android Market as the 'anti-App Store'

Android Market -- Google's upcoming content distribution system announced this week -- will operate more along the lines of YouTube, according to a revealing post on the Android Developers Blog Thursday.

In naming the distribution system that will help fuel its open source phone platform, Google has consciously avoided even choosing anything closely evocative of Apple's system.

"We chose the term 'market' rather than 'store' because we feel that developers should have an open and unobstructed environment to make their content available," said Google's Eric Chu, in yesterday's post to the Android Developer's Blog.

Chu also drew direct references to both Google's search engine and its YouTube video sharing service in describing Google's forthcoming systems for helping
users to find, download, and install various types of content on future Android-powered devices.

"The concept is simple: leverage Google's expertise in infrastructure, search, and relevance to connect users with content," said Chu. "Similar to YouTube, content can debut in the marketplace after three simple steps: Register as a merchant, upload and describe your content, and publish it."

Chu didn't say, however, whether Android Market -- a service slated to appear in beta form on the first Android handsets -- will also adhere to YouTube-like policies around the types of content that can be published. YouTube's policies in this area revolve around a set of Community Guidelines which prohibit pornography, sexually explicit content, and "graphic or gratuitous violence," for example.

If YouTube users find videos that seem to violate these guidelines, they can flag the videos as "inappropriate." When a video gets flagged, "we review the video to determine whether it violates our Terms of Use -- flagged videos are not automatically taken down by the system," according to information on YouTube's site.

If Android Market's approach to this area is akin to YouTube's, it will be quite different to that of Apple's App Store, which, under terms of an SDK, give Apple the freedom to reject an application before it is even published on the App Store if "in Apple's reasonable judgment [it] may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

Chu did say that some decisions are still being made about exactly how the system will work. Even while Android Market is in beta, though, developers will be able to expect support from Google for free -- or unpaid -- applications, according to Chu.

"Soon after [the] launch [of Android Market] an update will be provided that supports download of paid content and more features such as versioning, multiple device profile support, analytics, etc.," he added.

Also in his blog, Chu included four early screenshots showing Google's vision, at this point, for security features and workflow. The main menu of "ZeDev Tools 1.1" -- amusingly subtitled "a comprehensive collection of tools for the erudite developer" -- has icons for applications, games, search, and "my downloads." Another screen shows application permission rights for accessing network communications, "your location," development tools, and system tools.

As examples of downloadable software that Android Market might offer, Chu includes a screen shot showing Slide Puzzle, Talking Compass, Ringtone Editor, GPS Test, Barcode Scanner, and Text-to-Speech Library.

These user interfaces can't exactly be cast in stone, though, in that Google has been making plenty of other changes to the Android software in its early phases. Earlier this week, for example, the company used another blog post to explain a decision to drop the originally planned Bluetooth and GTalk APIs from the Android SDK.

Also, the number of products to be included in the first batch of Android-enabled devices still remains unclear. Although HTC's "Dream" phone looks to be somewhat of a shoe-in, a Google spokesperson told BetaNews earlier this month that "to prepare for Android's public launch, we are testing the platform on a variety of devices."

Meanwhile, Android Market might be getting some competition very soon for Android content distribution -- in Japan, at any rate.

Earlier this week, a group of Japanese developers unveiled plans to start on September 12an Apple App Store-like site, to be dubbed the "G Appli Shop," according to an account from the Tokyo-based Asian tech news site Tech-On. The Japanese group also plans to form and promote an online community for Android developers in that country.

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