5 ways to make Google happy about Android app sales

January 26, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Google Android


Google is not satisfied with sales numbers from the Android Market. At the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco yesterday, Android Market lead Eric Chu said his company is “not happy” with download totals in the Market, and is working to address the issue.

Chu made the comments during a Q&A session Inside Social Apps, and promised that Google is hard at work to make purchasing apps easier and more appealing. Of course, this is the same story that we’ve heard for nearly two years with very little results. If Google is serious about improving paid app sales and won’t be happy until it does, here are five steps to take to raise sales.

1. Gives us the Online Market

Imagine if I told you that a company built on utilizing the web has gone nearly three years without giving its most important asset any presence on the web. Imagine if I told you that the same company teased of what looks like a beautiful, well-organized website for accessing content, but have yet to release it eight months later.

Don’t imagine, because that’s the reality of Google. As good as the Android Market may be, the web-based Market would be a boon to Google’s efforts to increase sales. Browsing apps online would be faster, easier, and better organized than what users currently experience in the Market. The popularity of third-party websites like AppBrain, AndroLib, and doubleTwist show that Android users desire the ability to browse Market content from their desktops, so Google needs to make its online portal accessible to users.

2. Carrier Billing

Android users on AT&T and T-Mobile can already purchase apps and put it on their tab. Google needs to expand that to even more carriers because Google Checkout has been a problem for reasons I’ve yet to discover. Whatever the reason, Google needs to remove hurdles and simplify the purchasing experience. If I can just have my monthly bill be $3 more expensive rather than going through a set-up process to spend those $3, let’s get to it! Chu says that Google has spent a great deal of time and money making carrier billing a possibility, and Google would be wise to spend even more of it.

3. Be more restrictive… 4. or at least filter

This goes against the open nature of Android, but I really think that Google needs to be more selective about what is allowed into the Market. No, don’t adopt the iron-hand of Apple, but have some standards. I just went into the Android Market this morning and Sexy Girls, Ring Clips, and a bunch of listings in Asian languages that I do not speak dominated the Just In section. Where is my incentive to wade through pages of crap to discover the many apps that are worth purchasing? There is none, and Google needs to recognize that the garbage apps are hurting sales.

Chu says that Google already has a team of people who remove apps that violate the terms of the Market, so why not have them also on the lookout for the stuff nobody wants? Okay, that might go a little further than some Android users are willing to go. How about we meet in the middle and create some type of option that will let users not have to see them? I would love to be able to have an easy way to not see apps from spam artists or people who just re-publish the same app over and over again so it continues to be listed as new. Google probably is unwilling to set standards, but its customers should have that option.

5. In-App Payments

We’ve known about this coming for months. And “coming soon” is all we’ve seen. Chu continues the company line of saying that in-app payments are coming, but that could just as easily be next year as it is tomorrow. In-app payments will be a boon to Android sales because it will make it easier for developers to sell upgrades within their apps, most likely benefiting game developers, and will lead to subscriptions to news and entertainment sources. Google has taken so long to roll-out this feature that it has opened the door for third parties to introduce in-app payment options. No big names have entered this space yet, but unless Google wants to see a future in which Facebook credits are the standard method of payment for in-app purchases, it better deliver its own feature quickly rather than soon.