Google Dissatisfied with Android Paid App Purchases

Google Android platform head Eric Chu said Google isn't happy with the paid app progress of Android Market. The company needs to fortify its payment system to compete with Apple.

It's rare to catch any actual Android developers other than the operating system creator Andy Rubin speaking in public. It's even more rare that you'll hear one of the team express any negativity about the platform's progress.

Yet Eric Chu, group manager for Android platform at Google, apparently acknowledged that Google is "not happy" with the paucity of paid app purchases for the Android platform despite the fact that consumers are activating 300,000 Android handsets each day.

Forbes got the story from Chu, who spoke at the Inside Social Apps event in San Francisco Jan. 25. The revelation comes one day after Apple's App Store just passed the 10 billion mark for apps downloaded for the iPhone.

Paid apps have lagged on Android for a number of reasons, including the fact that spammy apps roll through the Android Market like tumbleweeds. Inadequate billing options have been the main bugbear.

To wit, Chu also said Google wants to improve carrier billing options this year.

The company launched carrier billing for T-Mobile two years ago, but it wasn't until last month that Google added the ability for consumers to pay for Android apps through their AT&T phone plan.

Chu also revealed that Google will release an in-application payment system this quarter. Such systems help developers monetize beyond mobile advertising, selling virtual goods and other features within the app itself.

The in-app payment option was slated to drop last quarter, but Google delayed the launch to get more feedback from developers, Chu explained.

So expect it to come this quarter to fill another need in the Android platform that Apple's App Store already provides for its iPhone and other iOS devices.

This is crucial; Android may have passed iPhone in U.S. market share, but it's mantle will be severely challenged shortly after Verizon Wireless launches the iPhone 4 Feb. 10.

Chu also apparently said the Android team is working on products to improve Android Market merchandising and app discovery. This includes removing apps that violate terms of service and improving application ranking.

That will apparently go above and beyond last month's upgrade of the Android Market client.

That revision included a new carousel view on the home and category screens for finding apps easier, a 15-minute refund window, dynamic Wallpaper and Widget categories, among other things.