Android Enthusiasts Push for Paid Apps

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Android Enthusiasts Push for Paid Apps
The Android Army is passing around the collection bucket, encouraging its comrades to buy more Android Apps.

The "Paid App Pledge" is a grassroots attempt to prove that Android phone owners aren't cheapskates. AndroidGuys blogger Chuck Falzone began the push about a week ago, asking Android phone owners to spend at least $5 per week on apps, and to pledge their commitment through a hashtag on Twitter.

"Now just doing it is great--it supports those developers who are already toiling away to make Android better--but making it known is even better, because it encourages more development," Falzone wrote.

Falzone took inspiration from a blog post by Larva Labs developer John Watkinson, who estimated a lifetime Android developer payout of $21,000,000. That's no small sum, but it's just 0.02 percent of Apple's lifetime payout to iPhone developers. Watkinson's conclusion? It's hard to justify Android app development as a full-time job.

The Paid App Pledge is meant to convince Android developers of people's willingness to buy. The movement is gathering a bit of steam, with supporting blog posts on Phandroid and Androinica, and Tweets from app buyers still rolling in.

But satisfying developers and encouraging sales will take more than a grassroots effort. The Android Market has problems that Google needs to address if it wants to attract more development. Don't just take my word for it. Look at what some developers have said over the past couple of weeks:

Simon Judge is frustrated with Android Market's lack of a PC Web interface for browsing apps, delays from Google in enabling new phones to access the market, and caps on the length of written app descriptions. He also notes piracy problems, credit card processing issues and the inability for users to modify their app reviews, even after an error or bug has been fixed.

Jon Lech Johansen accused Google of failing to curate the Android Market. He pointed out, for example, that the market's multimedia category is dominated by ringtones -- many of them infringing copyright -- to the point of burying legitimate apps, such as Pandora. He also complained that only 13 countries offer paid apps, even though Android phones are sold in 46.

Are these two developers in the minority? Not according to Skyhook Wireless, whose December 2009 survey of developers found that 57 percent were not satisfied with their profits through Android.

The Paid App Pledge is a noble effort and a nice way of thanking developers for their work. Now, Google just needs to capitalize off the good will by aggressively tackling the Android Market's woes.

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