Android Market to Finally Get In-App Payments, Improved Discovery. When? "Soon."
Android will release an in-app payment system “soon,” said Eric Chu, group manager for Android platform at Google, speaking at Inside Social Apps in San Francisco today.
An in-app payment option was supposed to be released last quarter, but Google delayed the launch in order to get more feedback from developers, who had been very busy at the end of the year with Christmas app development and sales, according to Chu.
(Meanwhile, start-ups like Zong are already offering in-app payments for Android, but Chu said he’d prefer developers to wait until Google can get its own version out to provide a consistent user experience.)
In-app payments are important because they enable developers to sell virtual goods and premium features, both major potential sources of mobile revenue in addition to paid apps and advertising.
Android has a ways to go to convince developers that its app platform is on par with Apple’s iPhone, especially in terms of monetization. “We are not happy with the payout purchases in Android Market,” Chu said.
Google has been slow to form partnerships with carriers, and so far has done so only with T-Mobile USA and AT&T, but Chu said this is currently a major area of investment.
Asked whether carriers get too large a cut, Chu said that carriers deserve a share of the profits since they significantly subsidize the cost of phones.
Chu acknowledged problems with Android Market’s initial approach, mentioning Google has made changes, such as taking a more active approach to removing bad apps, and reducing the refund window (the length of time customers have to return paid apps) from 24 hours to 15 minutes.
Chu said his team is actively working on products to improve Android Market merchandising and app discovery with better search and lists, as well as an improved ranking system.
Google is open to feedback about changing the refund window, said Chu, but it will draw a hard line about refunds for virtual goods. Not gonna happen, he said.