Android Is Finally Expanding Paid Apps to More Countries

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Google is finally getting its act together, expanding the number of countries that can buy and sell paid Android apps.

Over the next two weeks, Google will be opening up 18 new countries where you can buy paid apps. The move is a welcome one for developers, who’ve been limited to selling their apps in just 14 countries, far fewer than the 90 countries that Apple’s App Store.

The new countries are: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, and Taiwan.

Additionally, Google is adding 20 new countries from which developers can sell apps, bringing the total to 29. The new countries are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.

Eric Chu, of Android Developer System, said in a blog post that even more countries are on tap for future additions to these lists.

The lack of global access for paid apps has been a huge gripe of developers, who haven’t been able to sell their apps with the same international reach as iPhone apps. With more countries to sell in, we might to see an increase in the number of paid apps.

According to the figure gathered by tech blog Royal Pingdom, about 70 percent of apps in the Apple App Store are paid apps, while about 64 percent of apps in Android Market are free. Though a difference in developer culture might account for some of that, many developers haven’t been able to reap the same rewards overseas on Android Market as they do in the App Store. In some ways, it’s only fueled piracy because users are prevented from buying the better paid apps, said Royal Pingdom.

A recent developer survey from Appcelerator also highlighted the money concern for Android developers. The survey found that 75 percent of developers felt iOS was the best revenue opportunity while only 20 percent said the same for Android.

If Google wants to Android fulfills its promise, it needs to give developers a better shot at making money. The expansion of countries that can buy apps is a step in the right direction but Google still has a long way to go. And the fact that it’s taken this long feeds the larger feeling that Google isn’t terribly concerned about marketing its app store. The company has shied away from spending money on campaigns like Apple’s “There’s an app for that,” commercials. It leaves developers to market their apps and drive traffic to Android Market themselves.

The latest Android 2.2 update includes some improvements to Android Market and Google is also planning on rolling out a web store for online purchases of Android Apps. But the storefront is still lacking the polish and usability of the App Store. It makes me wonder if this laissez-faire approach is part of the reason why Amazon and others are looking at building competing Android app stores, because they might be convinced they can do a better job.

Related research from GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d):

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user wallenstein.

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