Developer joy turns to frustration as India is added, then removed, from paid Google Play app list

Developer joy turns to frustration as India is added, then removed, from paid Google Play app list

Developers in India can be forgiven for being confused as to their options with Android after Google added and removed the country from its list of markets where developers are eligible to sell paid apps in the Google Play store.

The 24-hour rollercoaster began yesterday when local media — including tech blog PluggdIn — were alerted to the change. The move was rightly billed as significant for the fact that it would allow developers in the country to sell apps without a workaround — such as a base in the US, UK or any other certified market — giving an opportunity to tap into the growth of smartphones in the country.

The delight was short lived as Google has overridden the change and delisted India today, as PluggdIn again reports.

We reached out to Google to get some clarity but the company declined to provide comment.

Given that Google is remaining silent, we’re led to presume that the addition of India was a mistake. Developers in the country that are keen on surfing the Android wave — the Google-owned operating system is driving smartphone adoption across Asia — will need to take the workaround approach instead, for now.

Microsoft is emerging as a serious contender for their business, however, and the Redmond giant — which is already courting the iOS and Android communities in Western markets — has long included India in its developer program.

The tech giant is putting particular focus on the potential of India’s huge population and, to that point, it opened its second global Azure incubator there in July. This past weekend its appeal among the community was demonstrated when it set a Guinness World Record for the longest coding marathon ever, thanks to an 18-hour event in Bangalore.

Android has not yet hit the growth spurt that it is seeing in Southeast Asia, Japan and other markets in India, and a move to open the potential of paid apps would help accelerate its consumption through the development of locally appealing and relevant content. For now though, it appears Google has prioritized other goals.

India’s relatively low smartphone penetration has also seen it again overlooked by Apple as the country was not part of the first wave of markets where the iPhone 5 was launched. For now, there is no confirmed launch date or price for the new Apple smartphone, forcing Indian consumers to be patient.

There is some positive news relating to Android and new devices as Nexus 7 maker ASUS revealed that Google’s popular 7-inch tablet will launch in the country in November.

During the first eleven months of last year, India’s smartphone shipments passed 10 million for the first time, to account for 6 percent of the near 166 million shipments made. It wasn’t just the increase in anticipated demand that rose, as smartphone sales topped one million per month for three consecutive months, September through October, which was another first in the country.

Image via Getty Images / Spencer Platt

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