According to a Wall Street Journal report, Google is hiring developers to create apps for the Android platform. In other words, the online search giant may be looking to become a sort of incubator for application developers and it has shifted a number of its own employees to boost the effort.
This is clearly aimed at reaching parity with Apple whose App Store holds more than 350,000 apps, while Google’s Android Market hovers around 100,000 applications. According to research firm Gartner, the worldwide app market revenue is set to top US $15 billion this year, which includes paid apps as well as those supported by advertising.
With paid apps on Android Market not pulling their collective weight, it’s expected that the majority of revenue from that channel will come from free, ad-supported apps. It does not help that Google has been slow to adopt in-app purchase mechanisms which pushed a lot of additional sales on Apple’s App Store as, according to research firm Distimo’s latest report.
Unlike the App Store, which allows paid apps to be distributed in all 90 countries it’s offered in, the Android Market has limitations that keep Android phone owners and developers from being able to purchase or distribute paid applications.
According to this Android Market support document, free apps in Android Market are only available in 44 markets while paid apps are available in 32. To be able to sell apps, developers must originate from an even more limited 29 countries. Strangely enough, Indonesia and Malaysia are two countries not mentioned anywhere on those lists despite the availability of free apps from the Android Market.
The global drive to hire application developers is apparently led by Benjamin Ling, a Google product manager, although more details are not forthcoming because the company declined the Journal’s interview request.
Google’s drive to promote its app store fits well with the company’s intention to boost the number of employees by 6,000. Currently the Mountain View giant has more than 24,000 staffers.
A research report from MarketsandMarkets shows that North America leads global mobile app revenue share with 41.6% but Asia leads in global downloads with 36%. When coupled with RIM’s outlook that 39% percent of smartphones will be shipped to Asia in the next few years, revenue from ad-supported apps may potentially play a much bigger part for app developers.
With free apps making up 60% of apps in the Android Market, Google may be poised to take advantage of the rising Asian smartphone market by distributing ad-supported apps and betting on click impressions. That is, unless it manages to figure out a less complicated model to allow global distribution and sales of paid apps.
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