GetJar intros free apps, Android client

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UPDATED: Mobile app store GetJar just passed 2 billion downloads a week ago and has been pushing its independent app market hard, specifically on the Android front. It has recently started giving out free apps, similar to Amazon’s App of the Day and has also pushed out an Android client that may run into trouble with Google.

It hasn’t been all good news for GetJar, which we named to our GigaOM Euro 20 Ones to Watch list. The company’s chief marketing officer Patrick Mork announced late Friday that he was leaving for Google, one of GetJar’s chief rivals. The departure of Mork deprives GetJar of a key strategist and an outspoken leader, who has taken on Apple, Amazon and Google in previous comments.

But the company doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It has introduced GetJar Gold, a list of paid apps such as Backbreaker, Age of Zombies and Swiftkey X — a smart keyboard that leverages the cloud get even smarter — which are being offered for free. It’s unclear what kind of arrangement GetJar has with the developers and whether or not it will face the kind of backlash Amazon has seen with from some of its developers with its Free App of the Day, which does not pay developers any money. GetJar’s Mork has told me in the past that the company works with its developer partners on longer-term promotions than Amazon and it tries to better position itself as a resource for developers. That may help developers looking for some exposure but if developers don’t see revenue when the promotion ends, it could lead to questions similar to ones some devs are pointing at Amazon.

GetJar has also released an Android client that allows users to download apps from GetJar right from their phone. I found it on the web version of the Android Market, downloaded it to my Android device and was then able to download Swiftkey X to my phone. I wasn’t able to find the GetJar client on the phone version of Android Market. I’m not sure how long Google will tolerate this because of its non-compete rules in the Android developer guidelines. Google’s enforcement of that has tripped up other apps in the past like Kongregate Arcade and Visual VoiceMail. GetJar has also enforced its own non-compete rules, banning Opera’s browser app after it started offering an app store inside its browser. But it’s a sign that GetJar continues to push the edge and is embracing competition in the fast-growing mobile app market.

You can hear more about GetJar and the overall app economy at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference Sept. 26 and 27 in San Francisco. GetJar’s CEO Ilja Laurs is scheduled to speak about mobile apps, so perhaps we’ll hear the inside scoop on GetJar’s expansion strategy.

UPDATE: The GetJar Android client was actually built by Openview Mobile and was not done on behalf of GetJar. The app, apparently, also doesn’t seem to be working.

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