Google's Android team today unveiled Android Market, a content distribution system through which users can purchase applications for smart phones based on the Android mobile operating system.
Eric Chu, a programmer for the Android Mobile Platform, wrote in a blog post that Android Market will let programmers make their apps and other content available on a Google hosted service that uses a YouTube-like feedback and rating system.
Programmers will also sell their software on Android Market in a way similar to how content is offered on YouTube. Sellers will register as merchants, upload their content, tag it and publish it. Again as for YouTube, Google will eventually provide developers with a dashboard and analytics to help them divine how their wares are selling.
Chu even had a reason for why Google is calling it a market instead of a store:
"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."Really, it's a store like Apple's App Store where you can buy and download software to run on your phone.
Chu said developers can expect the first handsets will be equipped with a beta version of Android Market, which will include support for free applications. Eventually Android Market will support any paid content downloaded on it, as well as versioning and multiple device profile support. See some screenshots here.
All the pieces are coming together. Several programmers have written Android apps. Two weeks ago, Android launched an SDK and OS road map, and unveiled Market, a place to buy the apps.
What's missing? Oh yeah, the devices. Until the HTC Dream and other Android-based smart phones of its ilk come to the fore in the fall, it's hard to get too excited about these supporting ecosystem moves.
I look forward to the first gadgets based on Android and hope for Google's sake that they are comparable to the first iPhone in user experience.
If they are subpar, Android will be deemed a failure and Google will swallow a bitter pill.
Gadgetheads are a merciless lot and will show the search engine no quarter if Android phones aren't as good as, if not better than, the best handhelds from Apple, Nokia, RIM, Palm and Microsoft.