Can Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) beat Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) ? We'll find out soon enough. DoubleGoo this week announced Android Market, its answer to the iPhone's $30 million App Store.
But there are key differences, writes Eric Chu at the Android Developers blog: "We chose the term "market" rather than "store" because we feel that developers should have an open and unobstructed environment to make their content available. Similar to YouTube, content can debut in the marketplace after only three simple steps: Register as a merchant, upload and describe your content, and publish it."
That's both interesting and chilling to me as a Google investor. Good news first: Developers are always more likely to write for and publish to an easy-to-use and supportive ecosystem, and Android Market appears to be that. The bad news: Copyright violations could become common.
Think about it. Apple's process for policing the App Store -- although flawed -- protects customers and developers. Copyrights are sacrosanct. Not so with Android Market, which professes ties to the Gootube model that's created a court conflict with Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) . And let's not forget about Facebook, which faced the wrath of Hasbro (NYSE: HAS ) for allowing digital Scrabble clone Scrabulous at its site.
Fortunately, there will be time to address potential abuses. Android Market is to roll out in stages, Chu writes:
Developers can expect the first handsets to be enabled with a beta version of Android Market. Some decisions are still being made, but at a minimum you can expect support for free (unpaid) applications. Soon after launch an update will be provided that supports download of paid content and more features such as versioning, multiple device profile support, analytics, etc.
Good. Google's culture of experimentation -- release first, debug later -- can unleash massive value even as it unleashes massive problems, as with the Viacom suit.
Android Market is a good idea. Maybe even a Rule Breaking idea. But with tough competitors such as Apple, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) and its Symbian, and a forthcoming mobile OS from Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) , getting the entire OS right is more important than getting it released quickly.
Or in simpler terms: This Android can wait.
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