While sales of Android-powered phones are increasing, Android Market's paid app sales aren't keeping pace so an unhappy Google seems to be considering several very Apple App Store-style changes to help give things a jumpstart. Speaking to Forbes platform manager Eric Chu said these changes include in-app purchases. iPhone and iPad users have shown they'll often chafe at spending $1 to $10 on a game but will happily download a free game and then spend $10-$100+ dollars on in-app purchases to make their farms, castles, and mushroom homes look nicer.
Another change is the move to carrier billing since Google's own checkout system hasn't caught on and doesn't provide the international footprint of Apple's 90-country iTunes Store system. That's important to get more paid apps available in more countries.
The most interesting change, however, involves... wait for it... a type of curation:
Chu said there is a human team in charge of weeding out apps that violate Android Market’s terms of service. It sounds like Google is continuing to invest in that team.
While Apple does this in advance, rejecting apps that violate their guidelines before they hit the App Store, Google believes in a more open marketplace and so is handling violations after they hit the store. Whether that's better or worse for both developers and user experience is debatable. However, finding high quality, paid apps is apparently a big challenge amid a sea of keyboards, low-functionality apps, and other flotsam and jetsam.
With companies like Amazon and the carriers themselves preparing to launch competing Android marketplaces of their own, perhaps with higher levels of curation and easier checkout experiences, Google could be feeling the pressure. 10 billion apps downloaded later, could becoming more like Apple's App Store be the answer, or do you prefer having the option of another platform with a very different app ecosystem?