Publishing on the Android Market

After you click the Publish button, the application appears in the Android Market almost immediately. Once your app is published, you can see statistics including ratings, reviews, downloads, active installs, and so on in the Your Android Market Listings section of the main page on your developer account. These statistics aren't updated as frequently as the publish action, and you can't see review details directly from the listing.

By clicking the application listing, you can edit the various fields. Although some details can be edited, pricing information can't be changed. For example, if your app starts as a free application, it will remain that way. You can always upload a different version for a paid version of the application with new features. Paid application pricing can be changed at any time but must fall within certain limits. (In USD, this is from 99 cents to $200, but it varies depending on the currency in use.)

Understanding Billing

Unlike some other mobile platforms you may have used, Android does not currently provide built-in billing APIs that work directly from within applications or charge directly to the user's cell phone bill. Instead, Android Market uses Google checkout for processing payments. Once an application is purchased, the user owns it.

If your application requires a service fee or sells other goods within the application (for example, ringtones, music, ebooks), you need to develop a custom billing mechanism. Most Android devices can leverage the Internet, so using online billing services and APIs—PayPal, Google, and Amazon, to name a few—is likely to be the common choice. Check with your preferred billing service to make sure it specifically allows mobile use.

Currently, the Android Market agreement does not allow for collecting payments within an application. Although there are applications available on the market that leverage this sort of thing for enhancing the appeal and user experience of the applications, this is technically in violation of the current Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement. Other forms of application distribution, though, may not be subject to these limitations.

Another method for making money from users is to have an ad-supported mobile business model. This is a relatively new model for use within applications, as many older application distribution methods specifically disallowed it. However, Android has no specific rules against using advertisements within applications. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, considering the popularity of Google's AdSense.

Understanding the Android Market Application Return Policy

Although it is a matter of no small controversy, the Android Market has a 24-hour refund policy on applications. That is to say, a user can use an application for 24 hours and then return it for a full refund. As a developer, this means that sales aren't final until after the first 24 hours. However, this only applies to the first download and first return. If a particular user has already returned your application and wants to "try it again," he or she must make a final purchase—and can't return it a second time. Although this limits abuse, you should still be aware that if your application has limited reuse appeal or if all its value can come from just a few hours (or less) of use, you might find that you have a return rate that's too high and need to pursue other methods of monetization.

Removing Your Application from the Android Market

You can use the unpublish action in your developer account to remove an application from the Android Market. The unpublish action has an immediate effect but may take a few moments to become unavailable across the entire system.

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