Posted by: Frank | February 22, 2009

Buying Android Applications

As has been expected, Google turned on the payment option of Android Market so that software vendors can now start charging for applications. When you browse the Market you will see on the right hand side the price of the application, or the word “Free.” During my initial browse I observed that most of the applications ranged in price from $.99 to $9.99. I bought DoggCatcher, which is a podcasting application that I have been using and written about here, that is priced at $9.99. The beta version of the application is still in the Market though I do not know for how long. Perhaps software vendors will keep free and retail versions of their applications in the Market, though because you can return applications I doubt that will happen.

Buying an application is very easy. Tap the application name and then tap the Buy button. You will see the privacy warnings for the application before you proceed to Google Checkout to purchase the application, which provides a way for you to cancel the purchase should you decide you don’t like the type of information the application will access and you decide to not purchase the application. Google Checkout already had my credit card information, which I believe I had already set up for other online purchases, but I presume that if it doesn’t have your information you will be asked to provide it. After I tap the purchase confirmation button the the payment is authorized and the application begins to download.

DoggCatcher has been available in beta for a while, and the vendor provides instructions with the information in the Market to go to their web site for the upgrade instructions. Basically, the retail version is a whole different application and you need to export the RSS feed database for the podcasts you listen to so that they will be available. You DO NOT want to delete the beta version of the application until after you start the retail version and confirm that your feeds have been imported. I assume that so long as you have the beta version on your G1 you can always export the feeds, but once you uninstall the beta version your feeds will be gone.

Note that the latest beta version of DoggCatcher is named “DC Beta” while the retail version is named DoggCather. This makes it easy to be sure you are uninstalling the right version of the application. Before you upgrade to the retail version of DoggCatcher you should make sure you have the most recent, properly named version of the beta by tapping Menu, More, Check For Updates. One final step that I took before uninstalling the beta was to reboot my G1 to be sure that all version of the application was not running. I then went into the Application Manager and uninstalled the DC Beta application.

During the first podcast that I recorded with Todd Ogasawara we talked about the pricing of mobile applications, which has long been a debate in the Windows Mobile community and now presumably the Android community. The average price for Windows Mobile applications has been $20, which I think is a fair price for most applications that have a reasonable amount of functionality. Some applications have higher prices, though many of the higher priced ones are bundled with Windows applications to access the data the application creates on the mobile device. In my opinion $10 is a very fair price for DoggCatcher which as improved significantly throughout the beta cycle and has software developers who are very responsive to their users. Some people seem to think mobile applications should be free, or cost at most a couple of dollars, but I think those people also seem to think the developers are only writing the applications as a hobby and don’t deserve to make a living off their work. Ultimately the market will determine whether the application warrants the price being charged and I don’t deny anyone the right to make a living off their work, even if it is something they would do as a hobby.

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