In-App Billing Is Live. That Means Freemium is the New 'Pro App'
I'll be honest, I'm not that excited over in-app billing. I just don't see what the fuss is about. So, you're able to make purchases directly from an app. It's just not that interesting. But, for those that are, today (or yesterday, actually,) is your day. In-app billing is now live for Android developers and you can see it working in Tap Tap Revenge and Comics. Over the next few hours and days, there will be quite a few more apps allowing you to give them money directly from the app. And, that’s where I do find it interesting.
I've long found it frustrating that there are two versions of almost every app available in the Android Market. One, for the free basic features or demo versions, and another that is a so-called "Pro" version. The latter is basically the real app. With this new announcement, developers can now rid the market of these duplicate apps and just charge you directly inside the app if you want to upgrade. So now instead of choosing between a version of software that includes ads and a version that is paid and rids itself of ads, there will just be one app, with an in-app payment standing in between.
There is a doomsday theory out there that suggests that now that in-app billing is available to developers, we'll see lower numbers of free apps in the market. I find this a little absurd. Free app developers are drawn to open markets. And while the "openness" and Android is always open for debate, it's by far the most open of all the mobile operating systems. And that bears itself out in the numbers. Android's free apps make up over 60% of the market, compared to fewer than 30% on the iOS platform.
This also gives the Android Market another leg up on the fledging Amazon Appstore. Not to mention that Angry Birds Rio is coming for free to the Android Market soon enough. Well, that exclusivity window sure didn't last too long now, did it?
So, if in-app billing is your thing or you are just excited to see the demise of the "Pro" apps, let's all rejoice the new freemium era on Android.