Google poised to launch in-app Android Market billing

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will introduce in-app billing options to applications available for download via Android Market sometime this week, signaling a major turning point in the company's efforts to galvanize the storefront's sales. Android Developer Ecosystem manager Eric Chu states Android Market is now open for upload and end-to-end testing of solutions that will incorporate in-app billing options, enabling consumers to purchase virtual goods, additional gaming levels and the like--programmers can submit their apps to the Developer Console, create a catalog of in-app products and set prices for them.

"During these test transactions, the In-app Billing service interacts with your app exactly as it will for actual users and live transactions," Chu writes on the Android Developers Blog. "Note that although you can upload apps during this test development phase, you won't be able to actually publish the apps to users until the full launch of the service next week." Chu adds that Google has updated its Android developer documentation to include information on how to set up product lists and test in-app products. "Also, it is absolutely essential that you review the security guidelines to make sure your billing implementation is secure," Chu stresses.

Google announced in January it would roll out in-app Android Market functionality by the end of the first quarter this year. At that time, Chu admitted Google was "not happy" with sales of premium applications in Android Market and vowed significant improvements. Third-party digital payment providers like Zong, Boku and PlaySpan (acquired by credit card giant Visa in early February) have already introduced in-app purchase options for Android apps.

Speaking at January's Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco, Chu said Google also plans to roll out additional carrier billing options in partnership with operators across the globe. Android Market quietly introduced direct carrier billing for premium applications sold on the AT&T (NYSE:T) network late last year; Chu said it is both expensive and time-consuming to forge carrier billing agreements, but added Google recognizes the potential impact on consumer app spending.

For more:
- read this Android Developers Blog entry

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