Sorry, Half of the World: No Paid Android Apps for You
Not everyone is on equal footing when it comes to buying and selling paid Android apps on Google Play. While U.S. developers have long been able to sell paid apps, Google doesn't allow developers from other countries the same opportunities. Developers in India, China and Indonesia, for example, are unable to sell their paid apps for profit through Google.
That's 2.7 billion potential developers Google is excluding from the Play Store.
There's no doubt that Google has been incredibly slow to add supported locations for merchants. It's taken the company over a year and a half to add the 31 countries they now support. In April, Google announced they would support developers in Czech Republic, Poland, Israel and Mexico – before then, developers in these countries were also excluded from offering paid Android apps.
In late September, there were some hints that India would finally be added to the list of supported countries. There was a lot of excitement about this announcement, since India is the second most populous country on earth, filled with talented developers and has a smartphone market dominated by Android. But just as soon as India showed up, it was pulled from the list of supported countries without any explanation.
You better believe Apple and Microsoft are taking advantage of Google's lack of support for developers outside the U.S. and Europe. Microsoft has long offered Indian developers a place to sell paid apps in the Microsoft App Store while Apple also allows developers from any country where iTunes is available to develop apps for iOS – a total of 86 countries, currently.
So why is Google more hesitant? Part of it has to do with the open nature of Android. Because Google doesn't have a strict verification process like Apple, they're likely afraid that their open policies could be abused by malware developers and spammers. But that argument only seems to go so far...after all, developers are still able to offer free apps from any country, and these are just as likely to contain malware or spam. Then there's the issue of Google's rocky relationship with the Chinese government. Because China has censored Google in the past, Google could be more reluctant to offer their paid services there. Chinese Android phones typically don't even offer Google Play, and the only way to download a paid app from the Google Play Store is to use a phone from outside China and swap in a non-Chinese SIM card.
But it doesn't make sense to block developers and customers in countries where Android is making serious waves. I wonder what's taking Google so long to catch up with the demand. Is it really so hard to provide payments to developers in India, for example? For now, Google's inaction is moving the paid Android app business to alternative app markets like AndroidPIT.