Google opens web-based store for Android applications

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) Google Inc., squaring off against Apple Inc. in the smartphone market, opened a web browser-based applications market for users of its Android software.

The new store will let users buy apps on a desktop computer’s internet browser through the Android Market and then download them to devices, said Hugo Barra, Google product management director. The store, which opened a week ago, will work on all Android devices, including tablet computers and smartphones.

“What we’re trying to build is a complete experience for users who want to find apps,” Barra said at an event in Mountain View, California. “It was an obvious gap that they couldn’t do that on their computers. Now they can.”

Google, aiming to expand revenue beyond its desktop computer-based search business, is focusing on new areas of growth such as smart-phones and tablets. Android topped Apple’s iPhone in US smartphone subscribers for the first time in November, accounting for 26 percent of the market, compared with 25 percent for Apple, according to ComScore Inc. Both lag behind BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., with 33.5 percent.

Barra also demonstrated features on its newest version of Android that’s specifically designed for tablet computers, including simple ways to find videos, e-mails and other personal information. The tablets will also enable video chat.

Acer Inc. plans to introduce an Android-powered tablet in April, Jim Wong, Acer’s head of information-technology products, said in November. Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. plans to debut an Android tablet this month. Samsung Electronics Co. already sells a tablet with an earlier version of Android.

Android devices accounted for 22 percent of fourth-quarter global tablet shipments, up from 2.3 percent in the prior quarter, according to Boston-based researcher Strategy Analytics. Apple’s iPad had 75 percent of shipments, down from about 95 percent.

Google gives away Android for free to boost revenue from services such as mobile advertising and expand the market for its search engine.

The company also unveiled so-called in-app purchases, enabling Android device users to buy items without leaving an app, said Chris Yerga, an Android director.

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Published Feb 9, 2011 at 9:15 am (Updated Feb 9, 2011 at 9:14 am)

Google opens web-based store for Android applications

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