The Google Android Market team recently announced plans to extend support for paid applications to more countries worldwide, a move that will allow developers to earn additional income from their "for sale" mobile applications.
Registered developers were sent an email containing information about the upcoming changes a few days ago, according to several reports. The email hints at Google's expansion plans, but did not detail which countries in particular would be added. However, analytics firm Distimo is now reporting it has seen 13 new countries where paid content has been added over the weekend.
Currently, paid Android applications are only available in nine countries according to Google's own oddly out-of-date website: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. But in reality, the full list also includes Australia, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Switzerland, says Distimo. And according to the email sent to developers (see full text below), there will be more supported countries coming soon.
A thread on developers forum site XDA-Developers.com, now mysteriously missing, had some claiming that users in Hungary, Poland and Sweden were able to access paid applications in the Market.
However, Distimo is reporting today that it has seen paid support arrive for 13 countries over this past weekend: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Singapore and South Africa.
Distimo notes that consumers in these countries now have access to paid apps while browsing the Market, but it's not clear if Google has enabled the ability to purchase (i.e. "check out") yet. Google appears to be rolling out the support now and this list may not be the definitive list of countries, explains Distimo.
Google is also expanding the availability of the Android Market worldwide, not just its paid apps. India and Hungry, for example, recently appeared in the list of supported countries, now numbering 48 in total.
The Impact of More Paid App Support
An op-ed on Android-watching blog Androinica said that the lack of paid applications in the Market has led to increased piracy because people want to use the apps and cannot pay for them through legal means. To back up these claims, the author looks at the piracy rates worldwide in relation to paid app support. The North American region, where paid app support first debuted, has a lower piracy rate than others. It's hard to prove this is a direct correlation (hence the "op-ed" tag) - it's possible that Android users may just be of a different mindset than those who use other platforms. For one thing, many Android users are open source fans who are used to the power of free, while others are simply associate "Google" itself with free and powerful tools, noted the blog Venture Beat late last year.
One thing the increased paid application support should change, though, is the ratio of free to paid applications, such as those cited by Distimo itself in its latest report. At the beginning of this month, Android had the largest share of free apps by far: 60% were free, compared with 29% on the iPhone, 26% on the iPad, 26% on Blackberry, 28% on Nokia (Ovi), 31% on Palm's webOS and 22% on Windows Mobile.
The following is the text of the letter sent to the developers:
We're writing to inform you about some changes to Android Market that require your attention.
Over the next few weeks, we'll be adding paid apps support for additional countries. If you have selected to publish your paid apps to all locations and intend to support all new locations as we expand the number of supported countries for paid apps, you don't have to do anything. If you have selected to publish your paid apps to all locations but intend to only target the currently supported 14 countries, please update your location selections to target these specific countries.
Please look for follow-up emails when we introduce paid apps support for specific additional countries in the coming weeks. At that time, you'll have the option to target these specific countries.
Thanks, and we look forward to continue working with you on Android Market.
The Android Market Team
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Update! Official List Now Available
9/30/10: Google has now posted the official news. Here's what they say:
"Support for paid application sales is now expanded to developers in 29 countries, with today's additions of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.
In addition, Android Market users from 32 countries will be able to buy apps, with the addition of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, and Taiwan."