Google is gearing up to officially support in-app transactions on the Android Market this week. You might remember that they made the announcement back in January, and it appears as though all systems are go sometime this week. Google is encouraging developers to upload and test their microtransactions enabled apps via the Developer Console asap, as the big G wants to ensure that the secure billing mechanism is lock tight before unleashing the function into the wild.
Android Developer Ecosystem Manager Eric Chu writes, “In preparation for the launch, we are opening up Android Market for upload and end-to-end testing of your apps that use In-app Billing. You can now upload your apps to the Developer Console, create a catalog of in-app products, and set prices for them. You can then set up accounts to test in-app purchases. During these test transactions, the In-app Billing service interacts with your app exactly as it will for actual users and live transactions.”
All fine and dandy, but aren’t in-app purchases already available on Android? Certainly! Zong, BOKU, PayPal, and PlaySpan all have 3rd party enabled in-app purchasing mechanisms, so what’s the big deal?
The big deal here is that while on paper, nothing groundbreaking or new, but rather, making the platform far more attractive to both developers and consumers.
By enabling their own in-app transactions, thereby cutting out any 3rd parties, Google has effectively given the green light to developers to port their title from iOS, which, of course, already supports in-app transactions. Granted, not an easy task, but with the proliferation of Android, and now combined with a direct billing method to the actual vendor of said app, I can’t imagine a developer who would pass this option up. The revenues speak for themselves.
Likewise, this new feature for Android could signal a much larger project in the works at Google. A project we’ve already seen, but perhaps haven’t put the two together yet. I’ll explain. By enabling in-app transactions directly via Google, the company is now allowing users a very simple, no frills method whereby they can simply buy away via the credit card details stored within a Google Checkout account. No 3rd party with your details, or no need to re-enter that 16 digit string every time you want to make a purchase. Credit card details stored with Google. Android now offering in-app purchases via Google Checkout. Google teams with MasterCard and Citigroup to enable NFC payments (and files a patent). See where I’m going with this?
Google Checkout has long been a property that’s been a quiet one in the mix. It’s been the payment mechanism that Google always seem one or two steps behind their competitors on. And while Mountain View may have been keeping this sleeping dragon quiet for a while, the combination of in-app purchases, Android, and NFC technology could just be the beginning of a whole new way of business at Google.