A Flood of Apps to Hit Android Market Next Week Thanks to In-App Payments

A lot of what has kept the Android Market from being a true alternative to the iPhone’s App Store is about to be eliminated.

Google said today that it will be launching in-app billing next week, allowing developers to monetize by selling chapters, episodes, levels or virtual goods from inside the application. Previously, the only other way to monetize on Android was to sell an application. This opens the door to a whole new way to monetize free applications on the platform.

Google’s Eric Chu made the announcement on the developer blog today.

He did not elaborate on which day the in-app payments would launch; however, we are hearing it is on Tuesday.

The launch of in-app payments will open the door to thousands of applications on the iOS platform, which have been waiting for a way to effectively monetize their applications. Many developers give away their applications for free and then try to get users to purchase additional features or levels once they are hooked.

Social games are a huge proponent of the model, and typically monetize through selling virtual goods.

In the past, very successful companies like Tapulous, which is now owned by Disney, have listed the lack of in-app payments on Android as the reason why they have not yet launched on the platform.

With this impediment lifted, we can expect a flood of applications to hit the store as early as next week. One of the apps expected at launch is Tapulous’ Tap Tap Revenge 4, which has generated 10 million downloads from Apple’s App Store.

“There’s a boatload of pent-up demand from applications that have been successfully deployed on iOS, but haven’t had the means to monetize yet on Android. There’s a deluge of developers who will go live with it,” said Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship, a company that provides tools to application developers.

Kveton said he’s been working with Google to build additional tools around in-app payments to make the process even easier for developers to build into their applications. Those tools will also be ready at the time of launch.

“We announced we would be supporting it and we have 300-plus developers who have signed up already. It’s mostly our customers from iOS,” he said.

Chu said that, in preparation for the launch, Google is beginning to test apps that use in-app billing. Developers can now upload the applications and set prices for them. But the apps won’t fully launch until next week.

While this will mark one important milestone for Android, another one occurred earlier this week.

Amazon launched a competing app store for Android on Tuesday with 3,800 apps. Applications that prefer to be distributed by Amazon will also be able to leverage Google’s in-app payments platform, the company said.

Amazon cites its experience as a retailer and merchandiser as the reason why it thinks it can build a better store than Google has to date.

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