A report this morning circulating the Web states that Google's rollout of in-app payments support for Android applications has been delayed until May 2011. If true, this would not be the first delay for the system, which was expected to launch in Q4 2010, but was pushed back to Q1 2011.
However, these initial reports were inaccurate, according to people familiar with the matter. Google's plans for in-app purchases within Android applications are still on track for a Q1 2011 launch.
In-App Payments Delayed, Reports Say
According to posts on TechCrunch, FierceWireless, Android Community, Phandroid and elsewhere (note, most sources have since updated their posts with corrections), a Google-acquired company called Jambool, makers of a virtual monetization platform called "Social Gold," sent out a letter to its users (full letter is below at bottom of post) which stated the following:
"The existing Jambool Social Gold product will be discontinued in favor of a new Google in-app payment product in May 2011."
Obviously, this letter seems to imply that Google's in-app payments product - the highly anticipated product for Android developers - won't be launching until May 2011.
But that's not true, we're told. The system being referenced by Jambool is actually an entirely different in-app payments system targeted towards Web developers, and it plays no part in Google's plans for its Android in-app payments system. They're two completely different systems - one is for Web developers, and one is for Android developers.
Jambool's In-App Payments for use in Chrome Web Store, Maybe "Google Me"
As a refresher, Jambool was acquired by Google in August 2010 for an estimated $70 million. At the time, it was powering the virtual currency systems within several online apps and games including Lil' Green Patch and Mafia Wars. The system is somewhat similar to Facebook's own virtual credits initiative called Facebook Credits. However, Jambool chief exec had publicly criticized Facebook Credits for "the hefty 30 percent fee Facebook charges for the currency and the potential that it might enforce their use for all apps."
Although unconfirmed, the expectation at the time of acquisition was that Jambool's virtual currency technology would be a part of in Google's upcoming social product, a rollout that's being dubbed "Google Me" or "Google +1." Google Me is believed to be a deeply integrated service which will be accessed through Google's onscreen toolbar which sits at the top of all Google products.
On the sign up page for the Google in-app payments beta, accessed from Jambool's homepage, the form states that "the beta Google in-app payments system allows developers to collect payments for digital and virtual goods from within their game, app, news or media site."
It also asks how you heard about Google in-app payments: Jambool/Social Gold, the Game Developers Conference, Chrome Web Store or "Other." This makes it more clear that this particular payments system is designed for Web apps, and, most importantly, Web games sold through the Chrome Web Store.
What's interesting about this little missive from Jambool, as it turns out, is that it could be a clue regarding the launch of something bigger from Google: Google Me in May 2011? Sure, why not?
Thank you for your use of the Jambool Social Gold platform. As you know, Jambool was acquired by Google last August. This acquisition meant that some changes to our business were inevitable, and we'd like to share them with you today.
First, the existing Jambool Social Gold product will be discontinued in favor of a new Google in-app payment product in May 2011. Rest assured that you will be able to sign in to the Jambool merchant console through September 2011, and you will receive year-end financial statements in February 2012.
Second, we'd like to invite you to participate in the pre-release beta of the Google in-app payment system. This system will enable developers to accept payments within an app, but it will not have the full functionality of Social Gold at launch. We understand that this will not meet the needs of all developers currently using Social Gold, but we highly encourage interested developers to join the Google in-app payments beta by submitting your information at http://google.com/checkout/inapp.
Again, we thank you for your flexibility during this transition period. Please feel free to respond to this email with any questions about your Jambool account or the new Google in-app payment product.
The Jambool Team