With developers angry, Google plans update to Android Market

The changes address some, but not all, developer complaints

Google is promising changes to the Android Market, the same week that a prominent application developer complained about issues with the store.

The changes, to be introduced "soon," address some of the common developer complaints, but not all of them.

[ Is it too late for Android to get its developers back on board? InfoWorld's Neil McAllister explores why Android developers are unhappy. ]

With the updated store, developers will be able to better market their applications by featuring screenshots in the description of the application, Google said in a blog post. That was a simple shortcoming that Larva Labs wondered about earlier this week in a blog post where it outlined the poor revenue potential for games in the Android Market.

Google will also make it easier for users to find paid apps in the store. Currently, it's extremely difficult to find the folder in the Market that includes applications that users must pay for. "It is possible to get to the paid-only apps in the Market now, but it requires some tricky navigation through a submenu," Larva Labs' John Watkinson wrote on the blog.

The Market will also include new subcategories for applications including sports, health, themes and comics.

The update does not address a couple other issues that developers have long complained about, including the application return policy. While the policy, which lets anyone return an application for any reason within 24 hours, sounds great for end-users, developers say that it's too easy to game.

The policy "would make sense for expensive, involved productivity apps; if the user is unsatisfied with the product, paid good money for it but won't be using it, then a refund is warranted," Watkinson wrote. "However, for many fun apps and simple games, the user isn't expected to get more than a day or so of use out of it."

Another common complaint from developers is that the only payment method available to users is Google Checkout, a system that is not widely used. They would prefer to offer users multiple payment options so customers can choose the most convenient. Google has hinted that other options may come.

Larva Labs pointed out the deficiencies of the Market as possible explanations for why it is earning so little money selling apps in the store. It has two high-ranked games in the Android Market but is averaging US$62.39 in sales per day. The company compares that to some of the well-known success stories in the iPhone App Store, where developers of popular applications have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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