Do you have an Android device yet? If you do, you will know that the selection of apps in the Android Market is limited, and on average, their quality is lower than comparable iPhone apps.
Let's think about this predicament, and figure out a way for Google to create an Android Market that can rival the App Store. The first step is to analyze why Apple is successful right now, and at the same time apply those things to Google's Android Market. The second step is to go beyond what has made Apple successful.
What the App Store does right:
1) Encourages developers to charge for their applications
Why does this matter? Well, let's imagine what would have happened if apps were largely free for iPhones. As a developer looking to make some money on a really cool app, it would be discouraging to see that most of the applications you would be competing against are free. In fact, if there was no way to compete against exclusively paid apps (like on the Android Market right now), I would be looking for another platform to develop on.
An easy way to view "Top Paid Apps" (and make that the default view) is a quick and dirty first step into making the Android a more desirable platform for developers.
2) Review applications thoroughly
Apple has come under fire recently over their very strict review processes -- but it really is an important piece of the puzzle. Without a review process, the number of low quality apps (clutter) quickly becomes unmanageable, and makes it difficult to discover great apps. Part of the problem isn't necessarily bad developers, it has to do with the tools Google gives developers -- as I discuss in point #3.
Google has no review process right now at all -- you can upload an app, and it's immediately available online. That's great for individual developers, but terrible for the community as a whole.
3) Give developers high quality controls to use in their applications
If you look at iPhone apps, there are a lot of common elements that you can find from app to app. These are called "controls", and the quality of them are very high on the iPhone. In comparison, Android app controls are quite low quality, and at least for me, gives me a sense that applications are "lower quality", even though it's not necessarily the fault of the developer.
Google needs to spend some serious time and effort on their suite of controls they give to developers to enhance their appearance, and performance. They should also take cues from languages like XAML -- an extremely powerful markup language that gives developers an amazing amount of flexibility.
4) Have a desktop client sync tool for music, videos and apps
Apple has iTunes -- an amazing piece of software that makes buying and listening to music on your computer extremely easy. People who are used to purchasing $0.99 songs through this software don't even think twice before buying apps for the same price.
Google needs a piece of software that does the same thing. An easy piece of software with hooks into Lala and Amazon, Vevo and YouTube for purchasing and organizing music, videos, and Android apps.
Now what can Google do that Apple isn't doing to take things to the next level? Well, there are a couple of things that I think could work -- here are some:
1) Pay the developers a monthly or yearly "bonus" if they can maintain an excellent user rating on their apps
This would do two things -- keep quality app developers happy, and spur a whole new breed of quality applications in the market.
2) Give every application in the Android Market its own support site.
Google can reuse the same application they developed for their own internal support sites. It's more of a Q&A system that will give developers invaluable feedback to improve their applications, and to even generate a community around them as well.
What do you think of the Android Market, and how would you improve it?