At an app developers conference in San Francisco this week, Google’s Group Manager for the Android platform, Eric Chu, admitted that the search giant is “not happy” about the number of paid apps being purchased in the marketplace.
Chu said the company is looking at implementing direct carrier billing and in-app payment systems to alleviate these concerns. The in-app payment system would, in theory, let developers offer customers a “one-click” payment option to buy additional features or goods while they use an app.
The Android platform manager also said the company is looking at improving the Market’s recommendations features, including listing the top apps based on actual usage.
While these are all features I’d like to see implemented, if Google really wants to increase the amount of apps it sells, the first step is to completely overhaul its Android Market.
When I’m looking for a new widget or app to purchase, I first go to Android blog sites or YouTube to find what I want. After I discover something that looks worth a download, I type it into the Android Market and install it. But without this first step, I would be totally lost in Android’s chaotic marketplace. The search feature can best be described as “un-Google like.” Unless you know the name of the app you want, I find the search to be completely unintuitive.
A Market revamp should also include a complete change in the categories that users can browse through. Currently, if a user clicks the “books and reference” subject heading for example, they are subjected to hundreds of apps. But the Market doesn’t break down the categories into more specific sub-categories. This is something that Amazon has done so well with its site and I fully expect it will be a key feature for its soon-to-be-launched Android app store.
I love the openness of the Android Market and the fact that any developer can upload their apps to it, but without a better filing system, Google is destined to lose out to a third-party Android app store.