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Developers want a better Android Market

Though developers are excited about the future of Android, the platform may face significant challenges.

Android Market 1.6. Screenshot by Scott Webtser/CNET

As I said last week, fragmentation with the Google Android operating system is beginning to frustrate Android developers. And according to a recent report by Skyhook Wireless, the issue isn't going away. Though developers are excited about the future of Android, the platform may face significant challenges if it does not soon improve options to monetize apps and take steps to protect against the risk of fragmentation.

According to the study, four out of five surveyed developers are finding it difficult to get their apps noticed in the current Android Market. Also, more than half polled (57 percent) are less than happy with their profits so far. The gripes found in the survey seem to point a finger at the way the Android Market is designed, not so much at Android directly. To these developers, the platform holds promise, but the current way of doing business simply isn't enough to satisfy the masses.

One potential reason for the lack of profit might be all of the free applications available. For the first few months of its existence, the Android Market offered only free applications and then opened up to paid selections. It's possible that Android users got too comfortable in the initial phase and are simply content with the free apps that offer most of the same functionality found in paid titles.

The lack of a desktop client also makes it difficult for developers to give potential customers enough information to make informed decisions. With only 325 characters and two screen shots to use in the Android Market, it's simply not enough room to convince people to open up their wallets. There are no clickable links, or videos, and good luck squeezing the change log in the notes if your app has seen a recent update. Yes, the market was changed with Android 1.6, but so far only three handsets in the United States have the new look portal. More than half of all Android handsets still have the old market application.

Skyhook also suggests that developers feel Google Checkout is a hindrance to better sales. Roughly two in five claim they'd sell more apps if the Android Market allowed for carrier billing or another system. So far, T-Mobile and Sprint have already jumped on board with carrier billing and at some point in the near future both will allow users to have apps added to their wireless bills.