Petition To Enable Paid Android Apps In More Countries Draws Thousands

Next August, it will be 2 years since Google first announced Android Market, its mobile application store. First opened to users in October 2008, the company needed until February / March 2009 to add priced application support to Android Market for both developers and users in the US and the UK.

Today, supported locations for merchants now also include Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands and Spain. People living in a handful of other countries, like Switzerland and Japan, also have the opportunity to purchase applications, but developers can’t sell their apps there either. As for the rest of the world – incl. Belgium (lol), where I live – tough luck.

While users and developers in most countries are free to buy and sell apps through third-party marketplaces such as SlideME, priced application support for Android Market is inexistent.

And this irks plenty of Android developers and users all over the globe tremendously.

Swedish mobile app developer Mobisle Apps has been particularly vocal about the slow international roll-out of priced application support. They’ve considered setting up a business in the UK for the sole reason of being able to make money off their apps at some point, and more recently the small startup set up an online petition while saying they are getting so tired of the situation that they’re considering moving to other platforms altogether (cough iPhone OS cough).

The petition has so far collected more than 3,600 signatures in a matter of ten days, nearly 1,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook and hundreds of tweets. While many of the people who signed the petition live in Sweden or neighbor countries and are not necessarily affected by the lack of more international support for paid Android apps in Market, likely hundreds of those come from frustrated developers. Meanwhile, Google claims it is “working hard” for more support, but can’t provide any guidance on timing whatsoever.

Frankly, I’m not really sure what is taking Google so long to roll out paid app support in more countries, and developers don’t seem to understand either. Technically, it must have something to do with the Google Checkout merchant service and infrastructure. I’m sure they have their reasons for the delay, but it’s kind of insane that Android Market will soon be two years old and they’re still being sluggish about this.

We all know how important the success of Android is to Google, and worldwide sales of Android-powered handsets are booming.

What’s up with holding back international monetization efforts at scale for Android Market (which would benefit users, developers but also Google)?