Android apps market is a hit, Google says

The average user of the Android-based G1 phone has downloaded 14 applications, out of 200 now available on the Android Marketplace, a Google executive said.

The average user of the Android-based G1 phone has downloaded 14 applications, out of 200 now available on the Android Marketplace, a Google executive said Wednesday.

Application developers and chip and handset manufacturers are happy with the Android platform and the Marketplace, especially since Android was made open source following the introduction of the G1 by T-Mobile USA Inc. last month, said Eric Chu, group marketing manager for the Android Mobile Platform. He spoke at the Wireless Communications Association International conference in San Jose, California, alongside a Motorola executive.

Google held back from open-sourcing Android until after the first Android handset shipped, and some handset and semiconductor makers had questions about Google's commitment to open-sourcing until it made the move, Chu said. Since then, Google has seen a surge of interest, he said.

"There were a lot of people waiting in the wings," Chu said, without naming particular companies. Motorola announced last week it would focus its future handset development on Windows Mobile and Android. The company still belongs to the LiMo Foundation, an industry group for mobile Linux, and will continue to make LiMo-compliant phones through the end of this year, said Rick Hartwig, director of marketing for emerging communications at Motorola. He wouldn't commit to anything beyond that but said Motorola sees part of the value of Android in the fact that it is based on Linux.

Google's Chu called the Android Marketplace the "killer app" of the platform, saying developers have been happy with the channel, which currently offers all applications free. Once developers can charge for their software, a change expected in the first quarter of next year, 70 percent of the revenue will go to the developers, Chu said. Of the remaining 30 percent, a small portion will cover the cost of the transaction, such as credit-card transaction fees, and most of the rest will go to the mobile operator, he said.

Developers have been happy with the statistics on downloads form the Marketplace, as mobile data use has been very high on the G1, Chu said. Google has seen "huge spikes" in activity as consumers use the browser, Google Maps, and various Google and third-party services, he said, without giving specific numbers.

A true open-source community is also building around the Android platform itself, with nearly 50 contributions from outside parties so far, including comments on code and drivers from chip companies, he said.

Google expects to get help from outside developers in keeping Android secure, Chu said. The company has built a process for handling reports of flaws and quickly fixing them, uploading patches and having them downloaded to handsets, he said. All G1 phones have gotten an over-the-air software patch for a hole announced last week that security researchers said might allow a user's sensitive information to be stolen, Chu pointed out.

Android may also show up on some WiMax devices, speakers at the conference hinted, though they gave no details. Google, one of several major investors in the WiMax joint venture being formed by Clearwire and Sprint Nextel, is working with Clearwire on innovation for devices and user experiences on the WiMax network, Clearwire CEO Benjamin Wolff said earlier Wednesday. This is in addition to Google providing search and advertising services, he said.

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