Android to include more apps Monday, and some won't be free

Android open source developers will be able to start charging for their software in January, Google announced today. Meanwhile, Google's online store for mobile software -- now containing only a few dozen applications -- is still in beta.

Just after the New Year, Android open source developers will be able to start charging for their software applications, Google said in a blog post today, while also announcing that the Android market will start opening up for more applications next Monday.

Although sales of T-Mobile's G1 phone have been under way since yesterday in 14 major US metropolitan areas, only a few dozen downloadable applications are available to customers yet, and Google is still acknowledging on its Web site that Android Market is in beta.

"If you're a developer, you will be able to register and upload your applications starting next Monday, 2008-10-27, when we've wrapped up a few final details. In order to make sure that each developer is authenticated and responsible for their apps, you will need to register and pay a one time $25 application fee. Once registered, your apps can be made available to users without further validation or approval," said Eric Chu of the Android Mobile Development team, in today's blog entry.

"Starting in early Q1, developers will also be able to distribute paid apps in addition to free apps. Developers will get 70% of the revenue from each purchase; the remaining amount goes to carriers and billing settlement fees. Google does not take a percentage. We believe this revenue model creates a fair and positive experience for users, developers, and carriers."

Some of Chu's words today echo those of Erick Tseng, lead product manager for Android, who blogged in late September that more developers "will soon be able to distribute their applications to real handsets" using a new software developers kit released at that time.

Tseng also noted in his September blog entry that, beyond the initial software applications promised for Android Market, "more than 1,700 applications were developed as part of the Android Developer Challenge." The first crop of applications, largely available by now, is based on software projects which won finalist awards from Google in the developer contest.

Even today, though, Google continues to proclaim on an Android showcase Web site that Android Market is in beta.

"Android Market helps developers get their applications in the hands of users by acting as an open distribution system. A beta version is now available on the world's first Android-powered phone, the T-Mobile G1," according to the site, which highlights some of the individual application offerings.

To access all of the existing applications, though, for now you need a G1 phone. T-Mobile is now sell the phone on its Web site, as well as in many of its retail stores.

Meanwhile, many consumers plunking down $179 for T-Mobile's G1 phone aren't aware that the downloadable apps aren't fully ready for prime time yet.

At the same time, the Android Market could certainly use more applications to come up to speed against Apple's App Store. As previously reported in BetaNews, between the middle of last week and the G1 launch yesterday, Google removed most of the 50 open source Android apps promised for the launch, and then suddenly returned them to Android Market.

A T-Mobile store employee in New York City said on Tuesday that Google temporarily took down the software apps because those apps just "didn't work right" during testing.

"But just give things a little time. This is all brand new. There'll be more applications up there soon," the employee told BetaNews.

Aside from Google's relatively well promoted Street View application, though, shoppers in a New York City store on Tuesday seemed more interested in upgrades to 3G service and phone features such as the G1's QWERTY keyboard than in software applications, anyway.

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