Google has issued a terse statement on the issue of Australian software developers not being able to sell apps through its app market for the Android platform, saying it’s “working hard” on bringing Australia up to speed with the rest of the world, but doesn’t have a due date just yet.
“We’re working hard on it but don’t have a time frame to share right now … these things are complex and can take some time. We hear loud and clear that people want to see paid apps for developers in Australia,” the company said in a statement.
Australia is not the only country without Android Market vendor support — other countries that are out in the cold are Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland. Meanwhile, some, such as the US and UK, have had support for the feature for some time.
The cork in the bottle appears to be Google Checkout, the online payment processing system that allows users to store their credit card information with their Google account and make payments using Google Checkout to participating online stores.
Google checkout is available in countries such the United States and the United Kingdom, but there is no support for Australia. The lack of support has frustrated Australian developers who want to to be able to sell their applications up with the rest of the global market.
Android developer James Purser wrote an open letter to Google on his blog this week. In the post, Purser vented his frustrations and openly asked Google why the company couldn’t support Australian developers.
“Why can’t I sell any apps? Is it due to the fact that the Google Checkout system doesn’t appear to support Australian merchants either?” Purser wrote. “I’ve tried looking for an official explanation but I’ve struck out. There’s lots of assumptions and rumours, but nothing there to re-assure people that the issue is going to be dealt with soon.”
At the end of his rope Purser had to do something he didn’t want to — he ended up buying an Apple product so he could see his applications released for purchase on a marketplace.
In a brief interview, part-time Android developer Peter Hopkins slammed Google Checkout as being an inferior product compared with PayPal, calling for Google out to pull its socks up if it wanted to seriously compete with the bigger marketplaces out there.
“The whole thing is ‘the ineffectual implementation of Google Checkout’,” he said. “It’s always been a lesser version of PayPal, integrated into its own ineffectual proprietary [system]. If Google want to be serious about selling anything from any of their marketplaces, in any countries, they need to put some serious effort into globalising Google Checkout.”
However, another long-time Android developer, David Morris-Oliveros, pointed out a lot of Aussie Android developers were developing apps as a pastime — they aren’t in it for the money. Their reward is to see other people make use of and/or enjoy their end product — an open open source mentality.
“There is no real incentive to develop for Android in Australia if you are already working a normal job,” he said. “I mean, it’s great to do hobby programming when I get home from work, to release it free and then see how other people enjoy what you are doing. But it would help enormously to be able to opt-in for some financial reward, too.”
To cement Talsit’s comment, another local developer, Sri Panyam — who also codes on the Android OS in his spare time — said he doesn’t develop for the money, nor has he tried to get financial gain from doing so. “I’ve actually developed for Android but never really tried selling. I thought the bigger problem was just the fragmentation of all those different versions and it being a pain to manage all those versions in your app,” he said.
Selling Australian applications is not technically impossible if you try hard enough — Australian developers such as jTribe and the team behind Alien Abduction do use a workaround to release applications and games on the marketplace using US or UK accounts.