Google disappointed with Android Market performance

Posted by Mike Luttrell

There is a whole lot of apps available for download on the Android Market, but when it comes to professional developers, many turn a blind eye to the platform because it's hard to make a commercially successful app for Android. That has Google feeling disappointed in itself.

Android platform manager Eric Chu was at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco this week, where he reportedly said Google was "not happy" with the progress, or lack thereof, the platform was making.

Many developers look to the iPhone's app store as being much more favorable to them. That's because there is no fear of fragmentation - that is, apps working on some phones but not others, which causes problems with issuing refunds and tech support - and because it's easier to advertise an iPhone app than an Android one.

Indeed, most of the big-name "apps" out there are either for the iPhone, or Android. But you almost never hear of an app that's only available on Android.

Two more barriers are giving developers pause: they can't offer "carrier billing," meaning customers download an app and have the charge tacked on to their cell phone bill, and they can't do "in-app" purchases.

Chu said Google is committed to its Android developers and is working hard to solve both of those issues. He said the company will also have better plans in place to block harmful, misleading apps that can install viruses on customers' phones. Some users avoid the Android Market because of the risk of downloading something that isn't what it appears to be.

Android is the most popular smartphone platform in the US, but Google needs to learn how to manage it. And that's the point Chu was driving home, according to a Forbes report on the conference. Hopefully it'll happen sooner rather than later.