Google is apparently answering the complaints of Android developers by re-designing the on-device store to put more emphasis on paid software.
The current version of the Android Market emphasizes popularity. By default, items are listed in order by the number of times they have been downloaded. This means the free software is given priority, as free apps are always get downloaded more often — users are more willing to try out an app they know they won’t have to pay for.
This is clearly the case with Android’s on-device software store. In the list of all applications, users have to skim past dozens and dozens of titles before coming to the first paid one.
Many Android developers believe this is stifling the success of paid software. This includes Larva Labs, which makes two of the top twelve paid apps on the Android Market, This game developer listed “Hard to find paid apps” in its recent blog post listing the top five problems with the Android Market, and says that so far it is averaging $62.39 a day in sales from Google store.
Others are having problems too. Demiforce makes the game Trism, which is available for both the iPhone and Android. The iPhone version pulled in over $250,000 in its first two months on the App Store — the Android version has not yet sold 500 copies.
The New System
However, Google seems to be aware of these concerns, and is moving to address them.
Some screenshots of the next version of the Android Market have leaked out, and they show that the new default view will be to show “Top paid” software, putting much more emphasis on this class of software.
However, users will also have the option to switch to tabs showing “Top free” and “Just in” apps.
A Better Payment System, Too
Another of Larva Labs complaints is that all purchases made through the Android Market have to go through Google Checkout, which currently only supports buying items with a credit card.
As Larva Labs says, “Lots of users don’t have credit cards, or don’t want to use their credit card to make an impulse buy.”
Google is in the process of changing this, too. It has promised an update Google Checkout that will make it more flexible, including allowing users to charge items on their mobile phone bill.
Other Changes Requested
Despite these changes, there’s still room for progress. The leaked screenshots of the next version of Android market don’t address some of the other complaints.
For example, developers are still very limited in the amount of text they can use to describe their software, and they can’t include a screenshot — the Apple App Store gives room for an extensive description, and a screenshot, too.