Google Hires PayPal Exec, Moves to Expand App Payment Options

Android has lagged other platforms in terms of paid apps. This is largely because of friction and limited adoption around its payments platform Checkout.

Developers have been unhappy with paid apps performance on Android even as they aggressively embrace the platform. Google for its part has been trying to address the weakness of its payment options with carrier billing, which is reportedly going to expand. And for the first time Google has acknowledged that all is not well in Android apps land:

Google’s Android platform manager Eric Chu knows that though the number of Android smartphone users may be rising quickly, the number of purchases of paid apps in the Android Market is not doing nearly as well. In fact, Google is downright “not happy” about the purchases of paid apps, said Chu during a question-and-answer session with anxious app developers at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

As I've argued many times in the past, this is a result of the limited penetration of Google Checkout and an earlier failure of Google to sufficiently explain and sell the benefits of Checkout to the public when it launched several years before Android. Google has continued to try and gain Checkout adoption but in an admission that its efforts are not proceeding fast enough, the company is negotiating more carrier billing relationships according to Android platform manager Eric Chu:

Expect Google to institute more such billing arrangements with carriers around the world, Chu said. He added that working with carriers to set up billing was both expensive and time-consuming, but a very valuable feature to users, and one that could help increase the spending on Android apps.

Beyond keeping developers happy, Google is obviously very interested in mobile payments broadly speaking. It's unclear however whether the company will build on Checkout or try and build/buy some new payments platform. As an indication of a renewed focus on payments, the company just stole a senior executive from eBay's PayPal:

PayPal’s Osama Bedier has resigned after eight years at the eBay-owned company and will take a job across town at Google . . . Bedier held the title of VP of platform and oversaw PayPal’s global payments platform, including mobile.

Google is quite far behind companies such as Apple and Amazon in this arena but could significantly accelerate its position through an acquistion. Indeed, in the past I've suggested that Google will need to acquire one of the leading mobile payments companies: Zong, Boku, Bling Nation. You could almost bank on it.

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