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Disney Publishing joins Android Market as Google improves interface

by Phil Hornshaw

It seems more and more developers are realizing that the popularity of Google’s Android platform can’t, and shouldn’t, be ignored.

Perhaps the latest to join the Android Market is Disney Publishing, which released its first Android app there today with Winnie the Pooh: What’s a Bear to Do?, an app that has already seen a lot of success in Apple’s iTunes App Store. The storybook app includes text for kids to read and a read-along feature with recordings in five different languages, along with games interspersed with the story.

As the Android Market improves, more and more developers are joining it, or at least Google’s platform in general. Disney Interactive, the gaming side of the company, tossed a hat into the Android Market ring with the Tap Tap Revenge series a few months ago when Google rolled out in-app purchases for the platform. And last month, PopCap Games, the maker of the highly popular iOS title Plants vs. Zombies and other hits such as Bejeweled, joined the Android platform but in the Amazon Appstore, an Android Market competitor created by the online retail giant.

Quality needs to improve, but Google’s working on it

Developers have complained about Android in the past, and the Android Market has struggled somewhat in comparison to Apple’s App Store in bringing in a high number of quality app offerings. Developers cite numerous problems, like the inability to let customers find or discover their apps in the store (app discovery), the difficulty of creating apps that work correctly for so many different Android devices (fragmentation), and the trouble of trying to make money in the market, which is easier for iOS developers.

But Google is working to improve those issues all the time. As mentioned, it added in-app purchases to its repertoire of features in April, and recently upgraded the way it handles user reviews, which should help good apps get more attention from customers and bad apps easier to spot easily. After tweaking the performance of the Android Market on the web, Google has also started improving the way it appears to users when they log-in from an actual Android device, as well.

Developers no longer ignoring Android

And developers are finding it more and more difficult to ignore Android because it controls so much of the market. New growth numbers about each of the different smartphone platforms seems to be made available on a daily basis, but while recent figures show that Google may have plateaued somewhat in the U.S., it’s still gaining ground in other markets. In Europe, for example, Apple’s share of the market has dropped to 18 percent in June 2011 from 30.6 percent at the same time last year. Meanwhile, Android has grown and dominates the market, holding 45.2 percent and rising from 10.7 percent just a year previous, according to data from market research firm Kantar Worldpanel as reported by PocketGamer.

So, while things in the Android camp might not be as great for developers as they can be when working on Apple’s iOS platform, the situation is definitely improving all the time. And despite being a tough place to get noticed, there are simply way more potential customers on Android than on other smartphone platforms. It’s only a matter of time until things become more equalized between Android and iOS and more developers start to be highly successful there, it seems.