Paid-for Android apps come to the UK

T-Mobile has announced that from Thursday, developers will be able to set prices for their own apps through the Android Market store
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

Paid-for applications will be available to UK Android owners starting from Thursday, T-Mobile has announced.

For the first time, Android developers will be able to set their own prices for their apps. Previously, only free apps could be made available through the Android Market app store.

Speaking at an Android developer event, Regan Whitehead, mobile internet category manager at T-Mobile UK, said: "When [users] click on the Android Marketplace icon in the morning there will be a wide selection of paid apps on the market," including offerings from EA Sports and Activision.

Content on the Android Market is rated by users — in a similar fashion to YouTube — so developers who slap a high price tag on their app risk pricing it out of the market, according to Richard Warmsley, head of entertainment and internet at T-Mobile UK.

The store is like "eBay — developers are posting up their apps, they're setting the price, customers are rating independently and choosing what they want to have so it's an open market approach", Warmsley said.

Mike Jennings, head of mobile engineering at The Telegraph Media Group — which has an Android app — and a former Google employee, added: "There's no editorialising. There's no one at Google who's saying 'this isn't worthy of us'. You can make the worst app in the world and upload it."

According to Maani Safa, head of mobile at The Telegraph Media Group, the newspaper's app — which was initially launched on Android — took about four times as long to port it over to the iPhone.

"[Apple] just make you jump through hoops," he claimed.

Because of these hoops, Safa said the company is "using Android as a trailblazer": any app it creates will be launched first on Android and then ported over to other platforms.

"Say you have a commercial deal in place and you want an application to go live on day X with an Android version. You create the application, you click on publish and literally within 10 seconds it's live in the application store, you call up the commercial partner and you tell them it's live ready to go. With the Apple version, you tell them it's date X — it gets to four days before, [Apple] gives you a call and says 'oh, by the way it's not going to go live for another two weeks'. 'Why?' 'It just isn't'."

There are currently more than 1,000 free apps available for Android.

T-Mobile's Warmsley said the top 10 apps downloaded on the G1 since its October 2008 launch are The Weather Channel, MySpace Mobile, ShopSavvy, Daily Horoscope, Free Dictionary Org, Ringdroid, Backgrounds, Barcode Scanner and Save MMS.

Currently, only one model of Android phone — the G1 — is available in the UK. The device is exclusive to T-Mobile.

T-Mobile's Warmsley said he was unable to put a figure on the number of G1s sold in the UK to date but said that while "it's not a million", in a typical week T-Mobile's current sales rate of the G1 is 70 per cent of the iPhone's sales rate. O2 claims to have shipped more than a million iPhones in the UK.

The typical G1 user is a 32-year-old male, likely to be living in London or the South East — although there are also G1 'hotspots' in Leicester and Nottingham, according to Warmsley.

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