Google announces Android Market for phone apps

The search giant is fleshing out its mobile-phone effort with the Android Market to let users find, buy, and download applications.

Google on Thursday announced Android Market, an online center that will let people find, buy, download, and rate applications and other content for mobile phones equipped with the open-source operating system.

Google's Android Market
These screen shots show the Android phone interface to the Android Market. The software shows what applications can be downloaded and reviews of applications that people are browsing. Google

Attracting developer attention is a key part of the Google-led Android software effort, and those who produce applications will have an easy time getting them to the market, Eric Chu of Google's Android project said in a Thursday blog post.

"Similar to YouTube, content can debut in the marketplace after only three simple steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe your content and publish it," Chu said. "We chose the term 'market' rather than 'store' because we feel that developers should have an open and unobstructed environment to make their content available."

Though the first Android phones are planned to arrive later this year, Chu said to expect the initial phone-based Android Market application to be a beta version that might only support distribution of free applications. An update later will handle different versions of applications, support for different profiles of Android phones, and analytics to help developers track adoption.

The move was expected. Google said in May at the Google I/O conference that it would provide a central repository of Android software.

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