Google Spreads Cheer in the New Year with Bling, Android Market

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-01-02 Print this article Print

It didn't take long for Google's Android team to get into the spirit of 2009.

Google Mobile App with Voice Search for the Apple iPhone with hidden options for changing the theme color and alternate sounds below the preferences on the Settings tab.

VentureBeat's MC Siegler was all over the options and had pics from playing with them here. It seems you can replace the default beeps that accompany speech recognition with chicken or monkey sounds. What? No aardvark mating calls?

Apparently, after launching the Google iPhone app and selecting the settings area, you have to swipe your finger upward on the About section to go below and eventually a Bells and Whistles menu appears below it. Upon clicking into this screen, you can change its color, enable monkey or chicken noises, select live waveform for when you talk and open links in the app.

All fine stuff, but I found the schedule update note from the Android development team more interesting because it involves, well, cash! Talk Android quotes an e-mail from Eric Chu saying the Android Market publisher Web site will enable country targeting by mid-January. Chu also wrote to Android programmers:

Android Market will support priced applications starting early Q1 2009, as we'd originally stated last fall. Given the country-by-country work required to set up payment support for developers in different countries, we will enable priced app support in Q1 for developers operating in these countries in the following order: (1) United States and UK; (2) Germany, Austria and Netherlands; (3) France, Italy and Spain. By the end of Q1 2009, we will announce support for developers operating in additional countries. Developers operating in the above listed countries should begin finalizing their priced applications, including determining the appropriate pricing strategy.

This is where the rubber meets the road for Android in terms of paid apps. Part of me wants to believe programmers will make some serious money from this, but then again I look at Facebook Platform and don't see many folks making big bucks.

Perhaps it will be different for mobile apps? Apple's iPhone App Store seems to be popular, but how much money are programmers making from iPhone apps? By extension, how much money will Android programmers make this year, considering they reap 70 percent of the revenues from the apps they sell?

Fortunately, this timely piece in The New York Times from Jan. 1 notes that since July, Apple has posted more than 10,000 programs to its App Store. Nine out of 10 iPhone users have downloaded apps, or more than 300 million over all, with some being free and others costing $1 to $10.

That still doesn't give us a barometer for money being made on mobile apps for the iPhone. In fact, this feature piece in The Times largely glosses over the money issue and will have you believe that money isn't the point for mobile apps -- it's wowing people with cool technologies.

I think that attitude is frivolous and irresponsible. With the economy in a horrible lull, pressure will be on people to make money from their work more than ever in 2009.

It won't be enough for programmers to build something and have people come, but to build something and have people buy. Perhaps the real winners will be the phone makers, because, as The Times argues, the apps help determine whether or not consumers buy a phone.

I guess I hadn't looked at it that way. When considering a mobile phone purchase as a mobile professional, I want to know how well I can text on it, as well as how well the service handles calls anywhere I am. I haven't really thought about what games, noises or bling I can play around with on a phone.

How about you? Do you base your mobile phone purchasing on what apps run on an iPhone, T-Mobile G1, RIM BlackBerry or whatever device you're eyeing? |

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