Google plans to start offering paid applications for sale as early as the first quarter, according to reports.
On his blog, developer Martin Drashkov said he received an e-mail from Android Market confirming the coming shift to paid applications, which should help it compete better against Apple's iPhone Apps store.
"A lot of people have noted that the Android's Market is currently somewhat outclassed by Apple's App store, both in terms of the number and quality of the applications available. However, with the arrival of priced applications, and the profit motivator, we should finally see a competitive answer to Apple's App Store as developers start releasing apps they've been working on but were unable to easily sell," Drashkov wrote on his blog.
Some developers have been hesitant to release Android applications for free. For example, EA Games, makers of such popular games as Tiger Woods 09 and Madden 09, told Gizmodo.com last September that it would wait until paid applications could be offered before joining the Google Market.
Google has said that developers of paid applications in the Android Market will keep 70 percent of the revenue. The remainder of Android app sales will go to carriers and billing settlement fees, according to Google's Android Developers blog.
"We believe this revenue model creates a fair and positive experience for users, developers, and carriers," wrote Google's Eric Chu on the blog last October.
Drashkov also notes that Android Market will expand to Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands in the first quarter.
"These rollouts will no doubt coincide with T-Mobile's launch of the G1 in these countries and developers will have the ability to make versions of their app available only in those markets," he wrote.