By Kim Tong-hyung
Korean mobile-phone carriers have been introducing a slew of smartphones powered by the Google-backed Android operating system in recent months, but the lack of software has been a letdown for users.
It bears further watching whether the introduction of paid applications (apps) on Android's content platform will result in a quick improvement.
Technology and social networking sites were buzzing with comments last week after Google Korea announced on its official blog that paid apps would be allowed on the local version of the Android Market, Google's software store for Android phones.
They weren't and still aren't, as Google pulled the notice just hours later, explaining that the posting had been a mistake, adding to the confusion of bloggers. The blunder may serve as an inadvertent public relations (PR) move, however, as paid apps on the Android Market could be just weeks away, with Google preparing to introduce its ``Checkout'' online payment system here.
``Nothing has been confirmed, but the idea is to have the Android Market contain paid apps within July. There will be another notice on our blog,'' said a Google Korea official.
More and more Android smartphones, such as the Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S and Motorola's MOTO QRTY, the local variant of Droid, have been appearing on Korean shelves recently. Their biggest mover is SK Telecom, the country's biggest mobile-phone carrier that has been forced to pay catch-up in the smartphone market ruled by the Apple iPhone, which was released by its biggest industry rival, KT.
Although Android is considered the mobile industry's best bet to challenge Apple's supremacy in consumer smartphones, response to the Google-washed handsets here have ranged between disappointment and downright hostility.
Compared to Apple's App Store content platform, which provides over 180,000 apps for iPhone and iPod Touch users, Android currently has just around 67,000 apps. The lack of content is more frustrating for Korean users, as Google has been slow to allow the downloading of paid apps here, which also discouraged local developers from developing content for Android handsets. According to Google, paid apps account for about 45 percent of the software globally available on the Android Market.
And the local law that requires all game content to be censored and approved before reaching consumers had forced Google to prevent Korean smartphone users from accessing the games category on the Android Market, further sucking the fun out of the mobile experience.
However, with Android devices managing to carve a market relying on impressive hardware alone, evidenced by SK Telecom reporting scorching sales for Galaxy S, Google finally looks urgent to do something about its crippled mobile platform.
Paid apps will be allowed for local Android accounts once Google introduces the Checkout payment service here, which will enable shoppers to set up a single account with all their personal information, credit card and delivery details for buying products.
안드로이드 마켓에 유로앱 등장한다
국내에도 다양한 안드로이드 운영체제 기반의 스마트폰이 등장하고 있으나 이용자들은 소프트웨어의 부족을 지적하여 왔다. 이러한 비판 속에서 구글은 뒤늦게 안드로이드 마켓 유료앱 이용문제를 해결하려는 의지를 보이고 있는데 앞으로의 변화가 이용자들의 컨텐츠 갈증을 어느 정도 해소해 줄 수 있을지 두고 볼일이다.
지난주 구글코리아의 공식블로그에 국내 안드로이드 유저들도 유료앱을 다운로드 할 수 있을 것이라는 글이 뜨자 국내 네티즌들은 뜨거운 반응으로 기대를 표출하였다. 물론 아직 안드로이드 마켓엔 유료앱이 없다. 구글은 불과 몇 시간 뒤 실수로 글이 올려졌다며 글을 내렸다. 그러나 안드로이드 마켓에서 유료앱의 등장이 가까워온 것은 사실인 듯 보이며 이것은 구글이 그들의 온라인 결제 시스템인 `구글 체크아웃'의 도입을 준비하고 있는 것과 맞물려있다.