Google Adds In-App Purchases To Chrome Build, Pretty Soon The Web Could Be Mostly Freemium, Too

Chrome is a platform unto itself, and Google likes to push it forward to make it an ever-more powerful one, too. Next up for the browser and the desktop OS which is built upon it seems to be in-app payments, according to developer and Chromium evangelist François Beaufort (via TheNextWeb). The change means the appification of the web continues, and could pave the way for a Chrome OS that looks a lot more like the kind of mobile platform people are used to.

Right now, the feature is enabled for Chrome Packaged Apps and embeds the Google Wallet App for Chrome to enable in-app transactions, but it’s also limited to the Chrome Canary Build, which is the furthest public build away from the stable consumer release most people use as their daily browser. That means it’s probably a ways away from a general launch, and for right now, it’s not actually being used to let you buy anything, but it’s still a pretty solid sign this is something we’ll eventually see introduced to Chrome apps for the web and Google’s Chromebook devices.

What does that mean for web-based apps? Well, it provides an easier way for developers to put in place the sort of freemium or free-to-play experience that has done so well on mobile. Freemium titles account for an overwhelming percentage of revenue on Android, for instance, as Google spelled out in no uncertain terms at its recent I/O conference.

Coincident with this news are efforts by Mozilla to develop a standard web payments API, something which it says is inspired by the very Google Wallet for Digital Goods API that Google is presumably using to make its own Chrome app payments work. Mozilla doesn’t talk specifically about in-app payments, since it’s targeting the open web and not packaged Chrome apps in particular, but it could also be applied to this problem in theory in the future.

In-app purchases could be the best way for content providers looking to monetize to leverage the habits of increasingly mobile-first users and make money where it’s been difficult before. And tying that to Google Wallet, which has growing reach thanks to the success of Android, is likely a smart way to hasten acceptance among desktop users.